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Bhitarkanika National Park Reopens

Bhitarkanika National Park Reopens
Representative image, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The administration has amped up facilities inside the park to welcome tourists once again

Nayanika Mukherjee
August 01 , 2019
03 Min Read

Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park has been opened to the public from today, August 1, after a three-month hiatus. The park, part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary’s core area, had been closed to tourists between May 1 and July 31 to facilitate the breeding of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). The creatures are known to turn aggressive during mating season, making the shutdown an annual exercise in smooth nesting and tourist safety.

 
 
 
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Park authorities have made comprehensive arrangements for the reopening. Tourists could previously enter the wetlands only through Khola and Gupti, but will now be able to take a ferry from Chandbali—an easier option for visitors from West Bengal. The number of boats have also been expanded. Five government boats will now be supported by 23 private boats and seven catamarans.

Census figures note that the park is home to over 1,740 saltwater crocodiles, called Baula crocodiles in Odisha. According to Bimal Prasan Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer at Bhitarkanika, there were 103 nestings this year, breaking last year’s record of 101 sightings. But with several predators around, very few hatchlings survive. “Out of five hundred baby crocodiles only one crocodile will reach adulthood,” explained Subrata Patra, a forest range officer, to Down to Earth.

 
 
 
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Bhitarkanika is a Unesco Ramsar Site, and India’s second largest mangrove ecosystem. Apart from saltwater crocodiles, tourists can enjoy views of animals like kingfishers, spotted deer, Indian black ibis, darters, and king cobras. For more details, see bhitarkanikanationalpark.com.


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