POST NEWS NETWORK
Kendrapara, Jan 14: A nine-day ban on entry of tourists into Bhitarkanika National Park will be imposed from January 15 to January 23 for the annual census of saltwater crocodiles
. Bhitarkanika Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division Divisional Forest Officer Bikash Ranjan Dash said 22 groups have been formed to count the crocodiles in the 27 creeks and rivers within the park and its nearby areas. The forest department will also deploy nine boats for the census. The restrictions on the visitors are meant to prevent noise pollution
during counting of the reptiles in the park. Winter and exposure of more than 50 percent of mud bank and lunar cycle are suitable for counting of the reptiles. The head count drive of the en-dangered estuarine crocodiles would be conducted under the supervi-
sion of wildlife personnel.
The enu-merators assisted by trained local forest staff and some herpetolo-gists would cover Bhitarkanika river system besides innumerable creeks, water inlets and nullahs. The team members will scout the rivers and other water bodies of the park and its nearby areas to count the crocodiles while wear-ing mask and adhering to social distancing norms. Notably, Bhitarkanika is said to be accommodating over 70 per cent of the total estuarine crocodile (saltwater crocodile) count in the country. Conservation of the croc-odiles was started in 1975.