Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park will be closed to public for about a fortnight from Tuesday for the annual census of crocodiles and winter avian visitors, a park official said Monday.

About 20 to 30 teams have been formed to carry out the census of crocodiles and birds, the park’s divisional forest officer Kedar Kumar Swain told IANS.

The bird census will start Dec 29, and the head count of crocodile will be launched Jan 3, Swain said.

The park will reopen for tourists and visitors Jan 9, he said.

The park will be closed a few days ahead of the census operation to carry out preliminary works, and to ensure the birds and crocodiles do not get disturbed.

The park in the coastal Kendrapada district, about 170 km from here, is known for mangrove forests and its many species of migratory birds. Besides, it is widely known as the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

At least 1,649 crocodiles and 81,000 winter birds were sighted in the park during the last census conducted about a year ago.

Source: IANS