‘Eloping’ crocs land in Bengal, brought back to Bihar
Forest officials say the crocodiles, tagged with chips, used the swollen rivers during floods to escape from a sanctuary in Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve in Bihar’s West Champaran district.patna Updated: Jan 15, 2017 14:28 IST
Two crocodiles, which escaped from a sanctuary in Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve (VTR) in West Champaran, bordering UP and Nepal, swam 750 km through several rivers to reach West Bengal, only to be trapped and shipped back to their designated habitat.
The crocodiles were among the 15 shifted from Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in Patna to the conservatory along the Gandak river in 2014 and tagged with chips to study aqua-marine resources in the area.
VTR conservator cum director RB Singh told HT that the male and female crocodile used the swollen rivers during floods to escape the sanctuary and swam a long way to West Bengal, where they were found in the Mahananda river.
Another five crocodiles, which also escaped the sanctuary, were tracked to Vaishali and brought back.
“We received calls from West Bengal forest officials about their sighting in the Mahananda and despatched a team to bring them back. The Bengal forest officials had already trapped them and used the chip to find out that they were from VTR”, Singh said.
The crocodile conservatory in VTR was set up as the Gandak, also known as Narayani on the UP border, has been a home to crocodiles for long but their population had dwindled, as locals from Bihar and UP killed them for their skin, used for manufacturing purses and belts.
It was found that the Gandak river, which crosses Sohagi Barwa area of UP and VTR were ideal to take up conservation plans for alligators, crocodiles and Gangetic dolphins, owing to its rich bio-diversity.
The Bihar forest and environment department had recently given the go ahead for the establishment of a tutelage centre for crocodiles in Madanpur range of the VTR where community conservation efforts are to be undertaken with help of scores of villages within the 900-square kilometre reserve.
VTR officials said the plan to locate the conservatory-cum tutelage centre around Bhapsa rivulet, a tributary of the Gandak and crossing Madanpur and VTR, drew upon the fact it was known for having a huge number of crocodiles and alligators in the 1950’s.
The nearby Belwaha village under Bagaha police jurisdiction has been home to 35 crocodiles for four decades and people have lived with them without casualties on either side.
The conservator said, “Steps have been taken to keep Belwaha at the core of the conservation programme and surveillance teams have been posted to save crocodiles from poachers”.