BHITARKANIKA NATIONAL PARK (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     15th January 2024        

Context: The population of saltwater or estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) in and around Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park has marginally increased in 2024.

Bhitarkanika National Park

  • Location: Kendrapara district, Odisha, India.
  • Second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India after Sunderbans.
  • Designated as:  National park on September 16, 1998, and recognized as a Ramsar site in August 2002, making it the second Ramsar site in the state, following Chilika Lake.
  • Coverage: Spreads across 145 sq km, comprising a network of creeks and canals fed by rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, and Patasala, forming a distinctive ecosystem.
  • Flora: Mangrove species, casuarinas, and grasses such as the indigo bush.
  • Fauna: Saltwater crocodiles, Gahirmatha Beach, Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, monkeys, jackals, langurs, otters, sambar deer, jungle cats, foxes, mongooses, wolves, fishing cats, and hyenas.

Saltwater Crocodile

  • Scientific Name: Crocodylus porosus.
  • Distribution: Found in brackish waters of wetlands and marine intertidal environments from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Australia's northern coast.
  • Features: Males average 5m in length and 500kg in weight, while females are smaller. Nocturnal hunters known for their aggressive nature, leading to frequent attacks on people and livestock.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern.
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