Crocodile Census in India - Background Context
- Recent Crocodile Census by the State of Odisha, India.
Current Findings of the Census
- The state of Odisha has seen growth in the population of Estuarine Crocodile (i.e. saltwater crocodile), in nearby water bodies, Bhitarkanika National Park, and the surrounding area of Kendrapara district.
- The number recorded was 1742 crocodiles in current years in pursuance of updating the Annual reptile census.
- The Govt. measures deployed in the region gave positive results in the context of the “Crocodile Census”
Type of Crocodile found in the Region.
Indian Saltwater Crocodile is the largest of all the Living Reptiles found in India. According to IUCN, it is listed as Least Concern. These are found uniformly throughout India along the east coast region.
Mugger (Marsh Crocodile)
This particular type is freshwater specie, found in lakes, rivers, and marshlands (marsh crocodile) found uniformly throughout the Indian subcontinent. The IUCN listed this type as Vulnerable which is a bit of concern, and conservation programs need to be undertaken ASAP.
Gharial/Gharyal or Ghariyyaal is unique specie found in the Indian subcontinent. With a pointy nose elongated pipe-like mouth-jaw, they are known as fish-eating specie. They are considered harmless to human beings. They are considered very native to the Indian subcontinent. Unfortunately, their numbers are not doing so well, and according to IUCN, they are listed as Critically Endangered.
There are efforts taken to increase their population in the region and numbers taking shape in rivers of the National Sanctuary of Chambal, Son River Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. They are also found in the rainforest of the Mahanadi river, particularly in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, State of Odisha.
Crocodile conservation programs in India
The Crocodile Conservation Programme was first deployed in the state of Odisha in the year 1975. In the initial phase, the conservation program was launched for Gharial and Saltwater, and eventually, the conservation program for Muggar was also launched.
The financial assistance for the conservation of this specie of Indian Crocodiles and technical expertise, guidance, and support is provided by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)/FAO channel through the Government of India.
Project/Scheme and Initiatives for Crocodile Conservation in India
- "Baula" at DANGAMAL: The term “BAULA” is an Oriya word, used to identify Saltwater Crocodile. The place DANGAMAL is located in Bhitarkanika Sanctuary.
- Project Mugger at RAMATIRTHA
The Ramatirtha Center of Mayurbhanj, located in the state of Odisha is a mythological tourist place and rearing center for crocodiles (Mugger) which comes under, the Govt of Odisha Tourism. The other efforts are Project Gharial at Tikarpada, and Crocodile breeding, at Nandankanan.