Three-month ban on tourist entry to Bhitarkanika National Park commences

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Bhubaneswar, (Reporterspen), May 1: A three-month prohibition on tourist entry to Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapada district began on Wednesday, lasting until July 31st. This measure aims to facilitate the undisturbed mating and nesting season of saltwater crocodiles.

The ban encompasses Bhitarkanika, Dangamala, and Ragadapati forest blocks within the wildlife sanctuary, ensuring minimal disruption to the annual nesting rituals of crocodiles. During this time, crocodiles lay eggs near water bodies within the mangrove forest and protect them until the hatchlings emerge.

Assistant Chief Conservator of Forests, Manas Das, emphasized the necessity of the restriction to prevent disturbances to the estuarine crocodiles during this crucial period. “The noise generated by mechanized boats ferrying tourists and forest officials can agitate the crocodiles. Disturbances during nesting and breeding seasons can exacerbate their aggression, leading to an increase in crocodile attacks,” he stated.
Forest guards have been tasked with monitoring the movement of female crocodiles, while measures are in place to deter unauthorized entry by local forest-dwellers seeking resources like honey and wood, which could disturb the reptiles.

During nesting, female crocodiles construct nests comprised of mangrove twigs, leaves, and mud at elevated sites to protect the eggs from flooding during the rainy season. Despite a female crocodile laying 50 to 60 eggs per nest, the journey to adulthood is arduous, with only one hatchling out of 500 typically surviving to maturity.

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