The population of the saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has increased in the water bodies of Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park from 1,742 crocodiles to 1757.
About Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile
- Out of the 3 crocodile species found in India, the saltwater crocodile is the largest of all.
- The other being the Gharial and Mugger crocodile.
- Mostly present in the Eastern coast of India.
- A large population is present within the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary of Odisha while smaller populations occur throughout the Sundarbans.
- The saltwater crocodile is present within the mangrove forests and other coastal areas of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.
Major Threats to saltwater
- Illegal hunting for its meat and eggs, as well as for its commercially valuable skin.
- Habitat loss and habitat alterations.
- Negative attitude towards the species makes conservation measures difficult to implement.
IUCN Red List: Least Threatened.
Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972: included in Schedule 1, according highest protection.
Crocodile Conservation initiatives in India
- Project Crocodile was started in 1975 with the aid of the United Nations Development Programme.
- Sixteen crocodile rehabilitation centres and five crocodile sanctuaries - National Chambal Sanctuary, Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary, Son Gharial Sanctuary and Ken Gharial Sanctuary were established between 1975 and 1982.
- A Crocodile Breeding and Management Training Institute was set up in Madras in 1980 to train managers of crocodile stations.
- In 1975, the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamala within the Bhitarkanika Park.
- This has helped in increasing the crocodile population from 96 in 1975 to 1757 in 2019.