Uttarakhand to get its first crocodile safari in Kumaon’s Khatima
Uttarakhand is planning to set up the state’s first crocodile safari in Surai forest range in Kumaon, said forest officials.
Sandeep Kumar, divisional forest officer (DFO), Terai-east forest division, said, “We are chalking out a plan for a crocodile safari in Khakra nullah of Surai range in Khatima area in US Nagar district. Our aim is not only to conserve crocodiles but also earn revenue from this for the department by attracting tourists and boosting ecotourism.”
Surai range falls in Terai-East forest division in Kumaon and Khakra nullah passes through the range. Since crocodiles are in good numbers in this forest range, a proposal for crocodile safari has been prepared, said Kumar.
The spot where the safari is being planned is 12 km from Khatima town of US Nagar and 20 km from Pilibhit tiger reserve in Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh. Khakra had 170 crocodiles in the last count held in 2018. Now their numbers have increased, according to forest officials
Kumar said, “A 750-metre stretch of the nullah has been identified for safari and ample fencing and walls will be erected on both sides so that crocodiles don’t harm the tourists and tourists too don’t venture too close to the animal. A track will be constructed on both sides for tourists. Later electric vehicles will be provided if the safari gets good footfall.”
Babu Lal, sub divisional officer (SDO) of Khatima forest, said, “Surai range is spread on 22,000 hectares of land and has a very rich flora and fauna. We have sent a proposal for a crocodile safari in Khakra nullah on the instruction of higher authorities.”
Praveen Kabir, a social activist of Khatima, said, “It is a nice idea to have crocodile safari in a remote area like Khatima. It would give Khatima a chance to shine on the tourism map of India.”
In Uttarakhand, crocodiles are found in the Corbett landscape, Terai area, some areas of Haridwar forest division and Rajaji National Park landscape.
According to the latest wildlife census released by the state forest department in June this year, crocodile numbers have increased in the state from 123 in 2008 to 451 in 2020.
Of 23 crocodilian species found in the world, India has three species. Uttarakhand has two of the three crocodilian species - Mugger Crocodile and Gharial (in Corbett landscape). Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), the most widespread freshwater croc species is found throughout India, except the extreme north.
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