Kendrapara: A total of 103 nesting sites of estuarine crocodiles have been spotted this year in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, an official said.
As per the latest census of the reptiles, the number of saltwater crocodiles, the species which are not found in any other river system in the state, stood at 1,757 in Bhitarkanika, he said.
The national park in Kendrapara district has once again emerged as the largest habitat of the endangered estuarine crocodiles in the country with 103 nesting sites, equal to the last year’s record number, spotted in it, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division DFO Bikash Ranjan Dash said.
Bhitarkanika, a Ramsar site, is said to house 70 per cent of the country’s saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started in 1975, he said on Tuesday.
Every year, the national park remains shut from May 31 to July 31 to ensure disturbance-free nesting of crocodiles.
“Adequate conservation measures by the state forest department have led to a rise in the number of the crocodiles over the years,” the official said.
Though the estuarine crocodiles are also found in West Bengal’s Sunderbans and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the population density of the animal is more in Bhitarkanika, he said.
The wildlife sanctuary continues to remain out of bounds to tourists in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the official added.