230 km from Bhubaneswar, The seashore
area has been a crocodile sanctuary since
1975 also to conserve the complex and fragile
mangrove ecosystem and the endangered flora,
fauna associated with it, Close by is the
coastal area of Gahirmatha, the nesting place
of the olive Ridley sea turtles. The
area of the Sanctuary is 672 Sq. Kms. Subsequently,
in the year 1998, the core area of Bhitarkanika
|Wildlife Sanctuary comprising of 145
Sq. Kms was declared as a National Park because
of its ecological, fauna, floral, geomorphological
and zoological association and importance
and for the purpose of protecting. Located
in the district of Kendrapada, Bhitarkanika
harbours rich and unique bio-diversity.The
area is surrounded by rivers such as Brahmani,
Baitarani and Dhamara and is criss-crossed
by several creeks and creek lets.
wetland supports one of the largest mangrove
ecosystems after Sundarbans, Gujarat and
Andhra Pradesh in the Indian mainland.
It has more than 300 numbers of plant
species, which include mangroves, mangrove
associates and non-mangroves. The floral
diversity of Bhitarkanika wetland is known
to be largest in India and second largest
after Papua New Guinea in the world. Considering
the genetic diversity of the wetland and
its importance, the mangrove steering
committee of Govt. of India have established
its National Mangrove Genetic Resource
Conservation Centre in one of the islands
of this wetland i.e. Kalibhanjadia island.
supports rich biodiversity including mangroves
and mangrove associates (71 species), largest
population of estuarine crocodiles (1358
as per 2004 census), the rare white crocodile
(Sankhua), largest Indian lizards
(water monitor), poisonous and
non-poisonous snakes like king cobra and
python, varieties of resident and migratory
birds (217 species) and number of mammalian
species (spotted deer, sambar, wild boar,
fishing cat, jungle cat, otter etc.) In
comparison to the national status, the composition
of vertebrate fauna / species of Bhitarkanika
project area represents 8% mammals, 17.70%
birds, 9.40% reptiles and 2.5 % amphibians.
The Gahirmatha sea beach, bordering the
sanctuary attracts hundreds and thousands
of Olive ridley sea turtles for mass nesting
/ egg laying (World's largest rookery) during
the winter months (January to April).
Bhitarkanika is endowed with a very complex
and dynamic ecosystem and is highly fragile
in nature. The ecosystem is complex in a
sense that all the sub ecosystem namely
fresh water, marine and terrestrial is intricately
mixed with each other. The essential factor
for maintenance of such ecosystem is regular
influx of fresh water from adjoining land
and tidal inflow from the sea. Any change
in the regime of either factor is likely
to effect a corresponding change in the
Depending upon the degree of inundation,
the species composition, richness and diversity
varies. Since the area contains older formations
and newly accreting landmass, several horizontal
zonation of plant communities are met with.
The horizontal and vertical zonation of
plant communities influenced by influx of
fresh water degree of inundation, seasonal
rainfall and salinity gradients greatly
influence the status of wildlife, their
number and distribution.
Mangrove areas support a range of interconnected
food webs, which directly sustain the fisheries.
Algae and detritus sustain shrimps and prawns,
which provide a food source for species
such as Bhekti (Lates sp.) Cat
fishes etc. Fish and prawns spend most of
their adult life at sea and return to the
mangrove areas and vice versa to spawn.
Some of the commercially important fishes
are Ilisha, (Hilisa illisha), Khainga (Mullet sp.), Bhekti (Lates
calcarifer), Kantia (Mustus gulia),
Kokill (Anchovella sp.) etc. Prawns
such as Penaeus indicus, tiger prawn (Penaeus
monodon), Metapenaeus affinis and crabs,
mainly the mud crabs (Scylla serrata)
are exploited in large numbers by the fishermen
both in the breeding and non-breeding seasons.
Mud skippers, a typical fish reside around
and in mangroves. These fishes are able
to survive short periods of aerial exposure,
skip around on the water and mud and build
chimney like burrows.
The Saltwater crocodile "rear and rehabilitation"
operation is a success story in Bhitarkanika
and the crocodile population in the Bhitarkanika
river system has been gradually built up.
The captive reared young crocodiles have
been released in the creeks and estuaries
and above 2200 crocodiles have been released
in phases since 1977. Some of the released
crocodiles have bred successfully in the
wild and above 45 clutches of eggs have
been located, which is 6.5% more in comparison
The sea beach, bordering the sanctuary attracts
thousands of olive ridley sea turtles for
mass nesting/ egg laying during the winter
months (January to April). Bhitarkanika
mangrove ecosystem is unique of its kind
and it is a best reptile refuge in the entire
country. The sanctuary is home to a number
of birds and every year a large number of
migratory birds come to nest into the mangrove
area. The other animals that you can see
at the Bhitarkanika sanctuary include King
Cobra, Indian Python and Water Monitor Lizard.
large number of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
flock at the Gahirmatha coast to lay their
eggs. These turtles attract a number of
wildlife enthusiasts to Bhitarkanika National
Encroachment of forestland by the migratory
people and conversion of the same into common
homestead and agriculture land are the main
problem in this locality. This has put tremendous
biotic pressure on the potential mangrove
forests. In the encroached land, the tidal
creeks are being blocked by earthen bunds,
which prevents the natural tidal flow and
gradually the mangrove vegetation perish
from that area.There are known pollution
causing Industries like Oswal and PPL, etc.
around Bhitarkanika which could affect the
ecological soundness, use of chemicals and
pesticides in agricultural fields and effluents
coming from large number of prawn gherries
has some impact on the wildlife depending
on the aquatic habitat.
To wean the poachers away from poaching,
a massive awareness programme has been undertaken
The efforts are supplemented with the establishment
of anti-poaching camps at strategic points.
To encourage eco-tourism, training camps
for eco-guides and boat-man associations
are being organized.
Motor boat from Chandbali.