Endangered croc population increases in Odisha

Population of mugger, an endangered species of crocodiles, increased by 7 in the last two years.

Berhampur (Odisha): Population of mugger, an endangered species of crocodiles in Ghodahada irrigation reservoir, near Digapahandi located about 50 km from here in
Ganjam district, increased by 7 in the last two years.

The population of mugger which had counted in the 5-sq km water bodies at 41 in 2010, their number went up to 48 at present. The two-day enumeration of the crocodile ended
yesterday, where at least 25 forest officials were engaged in the exercise held after two years.

While the enumerators sighted 41 adult (above 4-ft-long) muggers inside the reservoir area, other seven were sighted outside the reservoir, said divisional forest officer, Berhampur A K Jena.

With a major chunk of the mugger living in the reservoir, Ghodahada can be considered as another potential habitat for the mugger, the wildlife experts said.

Similipal, Satakosia, Ramtirth and Baisipalli in the states have been identified as the habitats of the muggers.

The wildlife lovers however were excited when they found a number of muggers housed in Ghodahada, the reservoir is meant for the irrigation purpose.

"Improvement of habitat, including the conservation measures and constant monitoring of their behaviours are some of the reasons for the increase of the population of muggers
in the reservoirs," DFO said.

The muggers in the reservoir swim safely as the local fishermen did not harm them, even though they use the water body for the fishing purpose. This despite frequent reports of
destruction of the fishing nets by the animal. The forest officials in the area are also creating awareness among the local people for co-existence of men and animals.

A pilot project on "Biodiversity conservation through community based natural resources management" is being implemented in the area with the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) for providing alternative livelihood support to the people of the area and to protect the biodiversity in the area.

The Rs 70 lakh project which started in 2008-09 will end in the month of March next.