Bhitarkanika National Park reopens for tourists
"It has been made mandatory for the visitors to submit a proof of identity to seek entry permit into the national park," the official said.
After remaining closed for three months, the Bhitarkanika National Park here reopened for tourists today, a senior forest official said. The national park was closed for visitors from May 1 to July 31 in view of the annual nesting of estuarine crocodiles, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya said.
The crocodiles often turn violent and attack intruders during their breeding period and the objective behind the three-month-long prohibition on the entry of tourists to the national park was to ensure the safety of the visitors and provide a congenial environment to the crocodiles for breeding, the DFO said.
"We receive about 50,000 tourists in a year. Our emphasis is to ensure a safe and comfortable sojourn of visitors, who throng here in large numbers to savor the warmth of the eco-system and unique environs of its wetlands," he said.
The park authorities have improved the accommodation facilities for tourists by setting up eight well-furnished suites at Dangmal forest bungalow inside the core area of the national park, he said.
The jetty at Gupti has also been refurbished, he said. "It has been made mandatory for the visitors to submit a proof of identity to seek entry permit into the national park," the official said.
Boat journey along the mangrove-covered water bodies is a major attraction for tourists here.
On any given day, 350 to 400 tourists tour the water bodies by boats. Stating that the forest department will not compromise on the safety of the tourists, the official said, private boats, devoid of life jackets and other safety gadgets for tourists, are barred from operating in the water bodies, he said.
Boats and vessels that are owned by the forest department are all endowed with safety equipment, they said. Bhitarkanika houses 70 percent of the country's estuarine crocodiles or saltwater crocodiles and the crocodile conservation programme in Bhitarkanika had begun in 1975.
The population of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles is estimated to be 1,698 as per the latest crocodile census.
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