Over 50 crocodile nesting sites spotted in Orissa


Kendrapada (Orissa) : At least 53 crocodile nesting sites have been found in Orissa's Bhitarkanika national park, home to the largest population of giant salt water crocodiles in India.

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Officials made the discovery in the past week near the creeks and canals in the park in Kendrapada district. "At least 50-60 eggs were found in each nest," A. Mishra, a park official, told IANS.

The government has imposed a five-month ban, from May 15 to July 31, on entry of tourists to the park, about 170 km from Bhubaneswar, during the nesting and breeding season of the reptiles.

"We have deployed around 25 forest guards to protect the crocodiles and their eggs," Mishra said.

"We will collect some eggs that will hatch. The hatchlings will be released in to the wild," he explained.

The reptiles become more violent during the mating and nesting periods and may even attack humans, he noted.

After mating on the surface of the water, the female crocodiles lay eggs in forest areas near rivers and creeks. They guard the eggs from jackals, fishing cats, wild dogs and vultures.

The crocodiles also cover the eggs with leaves to prevent harm from rain.

The animals make their nests with twigs and leaves on high ground to prevent floodwaters from entering them during the rainy season.

According to this year's reptile census report, 1,482 estuarine crocodiles were found in Bhitarakanika. Last year, the Guinness Book on World Record said a 23-feet-long salt-water crocodile living in the Bhitarkanika park was the world's largest crocodile.

The national park is also the only place in India where white albino crocodiles are found though their population is very small, Mishra said.