Bhitarkanika National Park
Bhitarkanika National park is situated in the Kendrapara district of Odisha. Surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Santuary the National park covers total area of 145 sq. Km. It was first declared as Wildlife sanctuary in 1975. Later in 1998 due to its natural beauty, ecology and wide species of flora and fauna it was constituted as National park. In August 2002, the same region was designated as 2nd Ramsar site.
FACTS ABOUT BHITARKANIKA NATIONAL PARK
• The state government of Odisha in 1975 declared the ex-zamindari forests of Kanika raj as Bhitarkanika national park.
• Then in 1998 for the protection of the ecology as well as rare species of flora and fauna, it was designated as National Park.
• In the year 2002 it was declared Ramsar Convention site.
• The sanctuary's core area has been carved out to create a national park that is rich in biodiversity.
• It is located in the Brahmani-Baitrani estuarial zone, with the Bay of Bengal to the east.
• To the east, the Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary separates the swamp region and mangroves from the Bay of Bengal.
• Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), White crocodiles, Indian pythons, King Cobras, black ibis, darters, and a variety of other flora and animals call it home.
• The sanctuary protects India's second-largest mangrove environment.
• The Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, and Pathsala rivers all flow within the national park and animal sanctuary.
• Green mangroves, migrating birds, turtles, estuary crocodiles, and endless waterways are all featured in the park.
• It is estimated to be home to 70% of the country's estuary or saltwater crocodiles, with conservation efforts beginning in 1975.
• It is a breeding ground for endangered saltwater crocodiles, who are the national park's main attraction.
BHITARKANIKA NATIONAL PARK - FLORA AND FAUNA
The largest colony of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles is found on Gahirmatha Beach, which defines the eastern edge of the wildlife sanctuary.
Rivers, streams, creeks, accumulated land, backwater, and mudflats are all part of the area.
Bhitarkanika is home to 215 bird species, including eight kingfisher kinds and migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia.
Many reptiles, mammals, and vertebrates can be found in Bhitarkanika, including venomous cobras and Indian Pythons, endangered water monitor lizards, Chitals, Jungle cats, Wild Pigs, Otter, Rhesus Monkeys, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, and the Fishing Cat.
Cormorants, Darters, Black Ibis, Egrets, open-billed storks, sandpipers, sea eagles, whistling teals, kites, and seagulls are among the sanctuary's most common avians.
POINTS OF CONCERN
• Some environmental activists recently stated that the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha is in grave danger due to planned freshwater diversion from the Brahmani river basin.
• Excess water allocation for factories, will result in reduction in the fresh water discharge to the sea.
• The lack of a normal flow of fresh water upstream would increase saline ingression, affecting local flora and wildlife as well as the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen that rely on the Brahmani and the Kharasrota rivers (tributary of the Brahmani).
• Because estuarine crocodiles would abandon the core sanctuary region and migrate upstream as salinity rises, there could be a significant increase in man–crocodile conflict.
• The reduction in water discharge will result in fewer mangroves, and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary will become a marine desert without them.
• The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, which attracts the world's biggest population of Olive Ridley sea turtles for congregation and nesting, receives nutrients from Bhitarkanika. Due to lack of nutrients the turtle population will also be in danger.