Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park reopens for tourists

Kendrapara: The Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district reopened for tourists today after a closure of 10 days.

The national park was closed from December 26 to January 4  for the annual census of crocodiles. As many as 23 teams– 12 of Bhitarkanika National Park, 2 of Gahirmatha range, 2 of Mahakalapada range and 7 of Rajanagar range– were engaged in the census.

“The restriction on the visitors was imposed to prevent noise pollution during the headcount exercise of the reptiles in Bhitarkanika,” divisional forest officer of Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife), Bikash Ranjan Das said.

At least 1,757 salt-water crocodiles including albino species were counted this year along the water-bodies of Mahanadi deltaic region while the census figure, recorded last year, stood at 1,742, Das said.

Das said visitors are required to submit identity- proof for entering the national park. Boat journey along the mangrove-covered water bodies is a major attraction for tourists. On any given day, 350-400 tourists make voyage on water bodies by boats and there would be no compromise on the safety aspect, forest officials said.

The private boats which are devoid of life jackets and other safety gadgets for tourists are barred from operating, they said. The boats and vessels owned by the department are all armed with safety equipment, they added.

(with PTI inputs)

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