Bhubaneswar: The population of estuarine crocodiles is on the rise at the Bhitarakanika National park as per the latest report of status survey held between January 15 to 23.
According to DFO of Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Divsion( Wildlife ) Bikas Ranjan Dash, as many as 1,768 estuarine crocodiles, including some reptiles measuring more than 20 feet, were spotted in and outside the water bodies of Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Division(wildlife) during the head count drive. The number was 1,757 during 2020 head count drive of estuarine crocodiles.As a result, the population of the reptiles has increased by 11 this year than last year.
Out of 1,768 Estuarine Crocodiles, the number of hatchlings (measuring below 2 feet long) was 593, yearlings (measuring between 2-3 feet) 367, juveniles (measuring between 3 -6 feet) 320, sub-adults( measuring between 6-8 feet) 152, while number of adults was 336. The enumerators also sighted several albinos in the wild ,besides 45-year-old captive albino Gori and another 12-year-old captive albino. The head count drive was conducted by 22 enumerator teams, consisting of wildlife personnel, crocodile experts and researchers, divided into 54 segments comprising of creeks, creek lets, rivers and nallahs of in and outside Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and Mahanadi Deltaic region.
The method of census adopted to count the crocodilian species was individual total count by direct day and night time sighting/counting. Each unit was provided with a census kit (map showing the area including river and creeks, route to follow), binocular, spot light/powerful torch light with cells, notebook, pen/pencil, day and night census forms, VHF, etc. Small boats were used for day and night counting of crocodiles in the narrow creeks and creeklets, said DFO Dash.