Saltwater Crocodile (Photo: Wikipedia)
Saltwater Crocodile (Photo: Wikipedia)
Bhubaneswar: A nearly two-week ban on the entry of tourists and visitors to the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha came into effect Monday for the annual census of winter avian species and head count drive of the estuarine crocodile, a wildlife official said.

The bird census will start Dec 28 and the head count drive of crocodile will be launched Dec 30, the park’s Divisional Forest Officer Manoj Kumar Mohapatra told IANS. The entry on the ban on tourists would continue til Jan 5. The park will reopen Jan 6 for tourists.

The ban has been imposed ahead of the census operation especially to carry out preliminary works and to ensure that the birds and crocodiles do not get disturbed.

While 10 teams would be engaged for the census drive of the birds, 20 teams would conduct the crocodile head-count, he said.

The park in the coastal district of Kendrapada, 170 km form here, is also a wildlife sanctuary. The last census conducted in 2011 had reported the presence of 1,646 salt water crocodiles and about 52,242 birds.

Bhitarkanika has found a mention in the Guinness World Records in 2006 with a 23-foot saltwater crocodile listed as the largest in the world. It is also widely known as the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles.