After a three-months hiatus, Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park reopened for the public on August 1,2019. Bhitarkanika is a Unesco Ramsar Site, and India’s second largest mangrove ecosystem.The park has been rejuvenated with amped up facilities.
The park remained closed for tourists from May 1st to July 31st to facilitate the breeding of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus Porosus). The creatures are known to turn aggressive during their mating season, thus making the shutdown an annual exercise for smooth nesting and in the interest of tourist safety.
New arrangements and facilities have been initiated after the park has reopened. Previously, tourists were allowed to enter the wetlands only through Khola and Gupti, but from now on the ferry systems will be open from Chandbali which serves an easier option for visitors from West Bengal.
A larger number of boats can now serve the tourists here. Five government boats will now be supported by 23 private boats and seven catamarans.
Bhitarkanika National Park houses over 1,740 saltwater crocodiles, called Baula crocodiles in Odisha as per the census figures. As per Bimal Prasan Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer at Bhitarkanika, there were 103 nestings in the current year, which broke last year’s record of 101 sightings. However, with several predators around, very few hatchlings survived.
“Out of five hundred baby crocodiles only one crocodile will reach adulthood,” said Subrata Patra, a forest range officer.
Other than saltwater crocodiles, tourists can spot animals like kingfishers, spotted deer, Indian black ibis, darters, and king cobra here at Bhitarkanika National Park.
Tell us if you are heading to Bhitarkanika National Park after it has reopened in the comments below!