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More area included in crocodile census in Bhitarkanika

Rise in incidences of man-animal conflict and trespass of crocodiles into human habitations has prompted Bhitarkanika National Park authorities in Orissa to expand territorial limits of these reptiles' annual head-count exercise to begin in January.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 11:53 IST
PTI

Rise in incidences of man-animal conflict and trespass of crocodiles into human habitations has prompted Bhitarkanika National Park authorities in Orissa to expand territorial limits of these reptiles' annual head-count exercise to begin in January.

"The ambit of annual census covering water bodies is being extended to fresh areas outside the prohibited Bhitarkanika national park water bodies," said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) forest division.

Earlier the headcount enumeration was confined to the Bhitrkanika river system, water inlets, creeks and nullas. But the annual census to begin in early January would cover fresh areas where there are reports of sighting of crocodiles.

"The covering of newer areas has become essential in view of instances of crocodiles being spotted in areas outside the animals' usual habitation corridors. The water bodies where crocs were sighted is close to human habitations and this is often triggering man-animal conflict," Mahapatra said.

The upstream of Brahmani, Baitarani and Kharasrota river system has been identified as possible habitation corridor of estuarine crocodiles. Enumerators would try to locate the reptiles in their headcount operation next month.

Several villages in Chandballi block in Bhadrakh district, besides in Aul, Rajkanika, Rajnagar and Pattamundai blocks in Kendrapara district are located along the upstream of these swirling rivers. Majority of croc-man conflict cases registered this year had come in from these places.

This led park authorities to take initiatives to sensitize residents in vulnerable villages like poster and leaflets campaign. Besides, sensitization camps seeking active help of panchayati raj institutions were held for most part the year, official sources said.

As it had been found that crocodiles attack humans at bathing ghats, locals were asked to stay way from river and water bodies and advised to use tube wells and wells instead. Besides, barriers of bamboo fencing were put up at bathing ghats in infested water bodies to stop intrusion by the reptiles.

Service groups of skilled fishermen and forest staff boarded on boats were pressed into service to chase away the intruding animals, Mahapatra told.

First Published: Dec 05, 2010 11:49 IST