Bihar’s first crocodile conservation reserve near Karkatgarh soon
In 2016, the state government in 2016 had warmed to a proposal from the forest authorities to turn this place into a Crocodile Conservation Reserve (CCR) and forwarded it to the Centre for funding.Updated: Jan 06, 2019 10:11 IST
The proposed visit of chief minister Nitish Kumar to Karkatgarh waterfall January 8 has raised hopes for the setting up of Bihar’s first Crocodile Conservation Reserve.
The beautiful water fall on mythological river Karmnasha in Kaimur district of western Bihar, preferred by early Mughal kings for crocodile hunting, may now emerge as a centre for crocodile conservation and eco-tourism, a first of its kind in the state.
In 2016, the state government in 2016 had warmed to a proposal from the forest authorities to turn this place into a Crocodile Conservation Reserve (CCR) and forwarded it to the Centre for funding.
The initiative came after at least 75 crocodiles were spotted in Karmnasha at Karkatgarh water fall, showing it up as a natural habitat for the reptiles of this particular kind.
As part of the initiative, two test ponds would be developed for incubation of next generation of aboriginal big reptiles, which the forest authorities hoped would be of attraction to national as well as international tourists.
“The state government had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh as seed money for preliminary studies by a renowned crocodile expert from Tamil Nadu and sent the plan proposal to Centre for its funding,” said Satyajeet Kumar, divisional forest officer, Kaimur.
He said the union ministry of forest and environment had sanctioned Rs 3 lakh this year for expert assessment, data collection and preparing a micro plan for the project. “We have requested for deputation of a Wildlife Institute of India (WII) researcher for data collection, behaviour study and assessment,” Kumar said.
Natural conditions would be created for crocodiles in two test ponds where female reptiles would be kept for laying their eggs and rearing their young ones.
“The slow pace of development of the project, significant for local tribals’ welfare, will get momentum once the chief minister inspects and examines its potential,” district magistrate Nawal Kishor Chaudhary said. The administration has made helipads and other facilities for the CM visit at the fall.
Chaudhary said the CCR would attract tourists as the Karkatgarh waterfall was located close to the famous Buddhist circuit stretch of Varanasi to Sarnath, visited by thousands of foreign pilgrims and tourists.
Restoration of an old Dak Bungalow, constructed by British rulers, and development of tourists’ vantage points for viewing of the 300 feet wide and 100 feet high waterfall are also on the cards.
Local folklore say Mughal rulers, British top officers and royal families from all over India used to come to Karkatgarh for crocodile hunting and stayed here for weeks to enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna around the place.
Bihar & Orissa Gazetteer, Shahabad, by LSS O’Malley also refers the Karkatgarh fall as the finest fall amidst the beautiful sceneries in Shahabad (now Kaimur) district.
Conditions turned favourable for the animals in the jungle, including the crocodiles, after Kaimur forests were declared part of a wild life sanctuary in 1979, wherein hunting of crocodiles and other wildlife species was prohibited.
Tourists from Varanasi, adjacent districts and from Patna used to come here to stay at the picturesque Dak Bungalow and see the crocodiles and wildlife in the open till the 1980s.
The area once again hogged limelight in October 2014 when the then district and sessions judge, Kaimur, Arun Kumar (presently justice in Patna high court) visited the place after covering 11km distance on foot and organized a Lok Adalat.
Its geography, history
Karkatgarh waterfall is located close to Buddhist circuit stretch of Varanasi to Sarnath, visited by thousands of foreign pilgrims and tourists
As per local folklore, Mughal rulers, British officials and royal families used to come to Karkatgarh for crocodile hunting
British records refer to Karkatgarh fall as the finest fall surrounded by beautiful sceneries
Kaimur forests were declared part of a wild life sanctuary in 1979 and hunting of crocodiles and other animals prohibited