Gharial crocodile population dwindling in Satkosia gand

July 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

Following report is from The Pioneer:

A small village in the bosom of nature, Tikarpada, is strategically situated by the side of the Satkosia Gorge. The meandering Mahanadi flowing closely amidst bountiful hills forms here the mightiest gorge of India, which is 22 km long. It is acclaimed as one of the most enchanting spots in the world. A Gharial crocodile sanctuary set up here has enhanced the importance of the place.

It is about 60 km from the district headquarters. This is probably the most important wildlife tourist attraction of the district. This place is famous for the sanctuary which is situated on the bank of river Mahanadi. The meandering pace of the sensuous river through 22 km of thick forest offers scenic delights. Here in these wondrous surroundings the famous and well-recognised gharial sanctuary is located. Gharial crocodiles are bred here and it creates a success story of conservation.

Odisha is the only State in the country where all the three Indian species of crocodilians — gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), mugger (Crocodylus palustris) and saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) are found in their natural habitats. It was in this State that the Indian Crocodile Project was launched first and researchers worked full-time to generate a database to assist conservation. Starting in 1975, the Odisha State programme developed research and conservation units at Tikarpada for captive rearing of the gharial. It included the management of the crocodilian sanctuaries at Satkosia Gorge.

The gharial project at Tikarpada was the first of its kind in the country. Here, initially, gharial eggs or hatchlings were brought from Nepal and later from the National Chambal Sanctuary. Thirty km length of the river Mahanadi, encompassing the once famous habitat of gharial, the Satkosia Gorge and the adjoining forests on the northern and southern sides, were gazetted as the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary in May 1976, with a total area of 795.5 sq km. In November 1981, another 168.4 sq km, covering the Baisipalli Sanctuary in its south were added to it. In 1989, an area of 384 sq km was identified as the core area of the sanctuary. Later, the entire area of the Satkosia Gorge-Baisipalli Sanctuary was placed under the administrative control of Satkosia Wildlife Division for some years. The experiment ended in 1993-94 and the areas were transferred back to the territorial forest divisions. The sanctuary is now under the jurisdiction of five forest divisions — Angul, Athgarh and Athmalik in the north, and Boudh and Nayagarh in the south.

At Tikarpara, gharial eggs were obtained at different points of time from Narayani and Kali rivers in Nepal and Chambal sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The eggs collected from Mahanadi were infertile. Some hatchlings of gharial were obtained from eggs incubated in Royal Chitwan National Park of Nepal and Katarniyaghat Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. All gharials reared at Tikarpara and those produced from captive breeding at Nandankanan Zoo, numbering more than 700, were released in the river Mahanadi between Boudh and Katrang.

Although Government of Odisha sanctioned more funds for tiger conservation project and stressed on eco-tourism project, the gharial project is now going to be destroyed because now only four gharials are living in this project. When the divisional forest officer of Satkosia wildlife division, R Raghu Prasad was asked about the matter, he said, “We have informed the State Government and it will take steps very soon.”

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Entry filed under: Athmallik, Athmallik-Deuljhari, Boudh, Boudh-Charichhak-Puruna Katak-Charisambhu, Region watch, Tourism Zones.

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