Spreads over an area of 672 square kilometres, Bhitarkanika National Park is a renowned national park in Kendrapara district of Odisha. It It was established on 22 April, 1975 and designated as a national park on 16 September, 1998. The Ministry of Environment and Forests serves as the governing body of this notable park.
The national park entertains a large number of mangrove species and is considered the second largest mangrove ecosystem in the entire country.
Mangroves are salt tolerant, compkex and dynamic trees that naturally grow in tropical and sub-tropical inter-tidal regions.
Bhitarkanika is one such rich, vibrant, lush green ecosystem which lies in the estuarine waterway of Brahmani-Baitarani region in the north-eastern corner of Kendrapara district. The flora also includes casuarinas and grasses like indigo bush.
The area is converged by a network of creeks with the Bay of Bengal present on the eastern side. This typical ecosystem is Asia’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuary.
The park has much significance due to its geomorphological and biological background which includes mangrove forests, riverines, creeks, estuaries, backwaters, vast buildup of land and mud flats.
The wildlife sanctuary is deluged by the rivers of Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra and Pathsala.
It houses saltwater crocodiles, Indian python, King cobra, wild boar, rhesus monkey, chital, water monitor lizard, black ibis, darters and numerous other species.
The nearby Gahirmatha Beach is the nesthouse of Olive ridley turtles. The park has about 1872 spotted deer, 1213 wild boars, 1522 monkeys, 305 jackals, 39 common langurs, 38 otters, 17 sambar deer, 11 jungle cats, 10 foxes, 7 wild mongooses, 7 wolves, 3 fishing cats and 12 hyenas according to 2014 survey data of mammals.
The park is globally unique in dwelling the endangered saltwater crocodile and possesses its largest population.
Around 1671 saltwater crocodiles inhabitate the rivers and creeks. Approximately, 308 crocodiles in the park are currently adults.
The Guinness Book of World Records sanctioned claims of a 7.1 metre, 2000 kg male saltwater crocodile residing within Bhitarkanika National Park, in 2006.
Trapping and measuring such a very large living crocodile was indeed difficult, and the accuracy of dimensions taken is to be verified again.
The observations and estimations had been accomplished by the park officials.
Birds such as Asian Open Bill, Cormorants, Darters, Black Ibis and Egrets are recurrently sighted in the park.
to 80,000 Indian birds arrive for nesting during monsoon season and 1,20,000 birds come from abroad in the chill, frosty wintertime. It also has 8 varieties of Kingfishers.
Sight-seeing is executed on boats which have been granted forest department licenses. Khola is one among the various gateways for entering the park.
It lies just beside an artificial creek and passes through dense mangrove forests, providing a fleeting look into the wealthy estuarine panorama.
Boat ride from Khola to Dangmal or vice versa is highly commended. Perfect time to travel through this creek is early morning or before sunset.
Odisha Tourism is actively displaying Bhitarkanika as an excellent spot for enjoying the rich, eco-friendly nature. Excursionists can relish the immense biodiversity of wildlife and birds residing here.