No visitors and tourists would be allowed in the Bhitarkanika National Park, in Kendrapara, Odisha, until August, owing to the onset of breeding season of estuarine crocodiles.
The prohibitory order came into force on May 1 and the national park would reopen three months from now, on August 1, the park officials said.
“Prohibition is being imposed in view of the breeding season of salt-water crocodiles. Human interference would disturb the breeding animals. The reptiles often turn violent and attack intruders during this period,” they said.
“So the objective is to ensure safety of humans and provide congenial environs to the breeding crocodiles,” Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya said.
As per the latest count, 1671 estuarine crocodiles are living along the Bhitarkanika’s water bodies.
Keeping in view the commencement of the breeding season, the forest department is prioritising safety of local people.
“Local residents need to remain watchful and vigilant. People could ensure their own safety by keeping safe distance from the crocodile-infested water-bodies,” he said.
He said the animal is sometimes found straying in and around human settlements which at times leads to man-crocodile conflict in peripheral villages of the wildlife sanctuary.
The species is itinerant in nature and strays into adjoining water-bodies because of its increase in hyper-salinity contents. After a temporary sojourn, they leave for their permanent habitation corridors within the Bhitarkanika habitation corridors, forest officials said.
Wildlife researchers studying salt water crocs are of the view that habitat of these species is getting squeezed in about 26 square kilometre of water bodies within the national park. These reptiles prefer the ideal water bodies because of its salinity contents. The salinity level in some of the water bodies might be dropping proving less ideal for crocodiles.
Follow @htlifeandstyle for more.