Bhitarkanika bans tourists as crocodiles set to nest

Bhubaneswar, April 30 (IANS) The Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha would be closed for tourists for two-and-half months from May 15 as the nesting season of crocodiles is about to commence, a forest official said Tuesday.

The park in coastal Kendrapada district, about 170 km from here, is home to about 1,600 saltwater crocodiles.

“Crocodiles tend to become violent during the nesting season. A notification for closure of the park for tourists has been issued,” Divisional Forest Officer Manoj Mohapatra told IANS. The ban would continue till July 31.

Crocodiles mate between February and April and nesting takes place in May. A female crocodile, on an average, lays about 45 eggs.

Hatchlings emerge from the eggs after 70-80 days. The mother crocodile actively guards the nest, usually prepared with mangrove twigs, leaves and mud.

Bhitarkanika, which is also a wild life sanctuary, 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 widely known as the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

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