Hatchlings of estuarine crocodile rescued from unusual habitat in Bengal
At least three hatchlings of estuarine crocodile, each around a foot long, were rescued by fishermen from a river and its adjoining creeks in East Midnapore district in south Bengal in the last two weeks.
The discovery has sparked off tension among the villagers who said they have not heard of crocodiles being spotted in the area in the recent past. Forest officials also confirmed that there are no records of crocodiles being found in the area. Officials, however, are not sure why the female crocodile covered such long distance to lay eggs.
“While some experts said that a female crocodile might have come from the Sunderbans swimming through interlinking rivers and creeks and laid eggs after finding some suitable habitat, a few others said that the mother-crocodile may have swam further upstream to save herself during cyclone Amphan. Sunderbans was one of the worst hit when the cyclone hit on May 20,” said a senior forest official.
Estuarine crocodiles are usually found in the Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove delta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is located more than 100 km east from the site. Human-crocodile conflict is common in the Sunderbans and many people are injured in crocodile attacks in the delta.
“We have been planting mangrove saplings on the banks of the various rivers and riverine islands over the past two decades. The area might have become a good habitat for crocodiles to lay eggs there,” said VK Yadav, chief wildlife warden of West Bengal.
While the first two hatchlings were released back into the wild, the third one is being sent to Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. The spot from where the croc hatchlings were rescued is more than 100 km south west of Kolkata.
“The mother could be still in the river somewhere nearby and there could be more hatchlings. The forest department has started making announcements to alert villagers. Locals are being asked not to hurt the animals and instead inform the forest staff,” said a senior official.