Kendrapara: The carcass of six-foot female salt water crocodile was found on Sunday in the Hansua River near village Dhaneswarpur within Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) of Kendrapara district.
“The forest officials retrieved the carcass floating on the water. We suspect the reptile was choked by fishing nets in the deep waters of the river. After getting autopsy report, we will know the exact reason of the death”, said a forest official.
This is the 21st incident of unnatural death of crocodiles near Bhitarkanika National Park within six years which baffled the forest officials and environmentalists. The death of an endangered salt-water crocodile on Sunday exposed the chinks in the armour of the crocodile conservation work in the park.
It is illegal on the part of the villagers to attack a crocodile as it is a protected animal under the Scheduled 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Over the years, the death of crocodiles is only increasing as at least 21 carcasses of estuarine crocodiles had been found by the forest officials within six years in Bhitarkanika National Park and its adjoining areas.
The rivers, creeks and other water bodies within Bhitarakanika is home to about 1,700 endangered salt water crocodiles. Fishing is banned in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika. But some locals illegally fish in the river and this fishing is taking a toll on the rare species of estuarine crocodiles. As illegal fishing continues unabated and offenders go scot-free, more and more crocodile carcasses wash ashore entangled with fishing nets, environmentalist said.