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Orissa: Muggers are back in high numbers
August 04, 2006 11:22 IST
Believed to have been extinct in Simlipal's riparian waterholes since 1979, the highly endangered Mugger or the marsh crocodiles are now teeming in all the major rivers emerging from the south Simlipal.
Thanks to the captive breeding and management project launched in 1979 at Ramtirtha, about four km from the Simlipal National Park Headquarter at Jashipur, the muggers, also called Crocodylus Palustris, has been pulled up from the brink.
The Ramtirtha rear and release project has over the years paid rich dividends with the number finally taking an upward spiral.
Since the inception of the 'rear and release' programme, at least 768 crocodiles were released in the sanctuary, where they could live in protected confines.
Young crocodiles are released mainly in the three major rivers of Simlipal, namely, Budhabalanga, West Deo and Khair-Bhandan.
Earlier, the project was assisted by the Government of India in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme. But recently, the project was under the Wildlife wing of the state forest department and under active management of the Simlipal Tiger Reserve (STR), sources said.
STR-cum-Conservator Forests Debabrata Swain said these muggers at the time of their release are carefully tagged so that the foresters could keep a tab on their movements.
He said the success of the project could be measured from the re-sighting of the reptiles in their riparian habitats. The re-sightings ranged from 12.1 per cent in Budhabalanga, 35 per cent in West Deo and 72 per cent in Khairi.
Swain said it was a now a common sight to watch the adult crocodiles basking in sand banks of the rivers of Simlipals.
He said the two-fold objectives of this milestone conservation programme included regular monitoring of the population in the wild, and maintaining the same levels of captive breeding at Ramtirtha for research, education and distribution.
Forest officials claim that the fish population will go up with the crocodiles feeding on the fish-eating fish. Tourism would also flourish with visitors enjoying basking crocodiles.