Bhitarkanika National Park
By : Neha Dhyani
Updated : Apr 19, 2022, 6:24
Bhitarkanika National Park is a part of the three protected areas that constitute the Bhitarkanika along with Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary (a protected area in the Indian Ocean). Bhitarkanika National Park is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Odisha's Kendrapara district. The two river deltas, the Brahmani and Baitarani, form the mangrove forest of the Bhitarkanika National Park.
The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary covers 672 km2 (259 sq mi) surrounding the Bhitarkanika National Park. To the east, the Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary separate the swamp region and mangroves from the Bay of Bengal.
Features of the Bhitarkanika National Park
- Bhitarkanika National Park is India's second-biggest mangrove after the Sundarbans.
- Bhitarkanika National Park is commonly known as India's Mini Amazon.
- The Bhitarkanika National Park, along with the adjoining animal sanctuary, was created on 16th September 1998 and was selected as a Ramsar site (a globally significant wetland zone) on 19th August 2002.
- The estuaries of the Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, and Mahanadi river systems are part of Bhitarkanika National Park.
- It is one of Odisha's top ecological hotspots, including mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles, and several streams.
- With conservation efforts started in 1975, it is thought to be home to 70% of the country's estuary or saltwater crocodiles.
Wildlife in the Bhitarkanika National Park
- The rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, and Pathsala stream the national park and animal sanctuary.
- Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), Indian pythons, king cobras, black ibis, darters, and a variety of other flora and fauna may all be found in the national park.
- The Salt-Water Crocodile is the region's dominant species, but the park is also home to various reptiles, including the water monitor lizard and pythons.
- Bhitarkanika is also home to a variety of wildlife like deer, hyenas, wild boar, and migrating birds who visit throughout the winter season, giving the ecosystem a bright colour.
- The Bagagahana, or heronry, near Surajpore Creek, is another rare phenomenon. Thousands of birds flock to the stream to lay their eggs, and their aerial acrobatics before mating is a sight to behold.
- Bhitarkanika also has eight different types of Kingfisher birds, which is a rare sight. The Maharaja's former hunting porch adds to its historical significance.
Concerns About Bhitarkanika National Park
- The lack of a regular flow of freshwater upstream would exacerbate saltwater incursion, hurting local flora and animals as well as farmers and fishermen who rely on the Brahmani and Kharasrota rivers for their livelihoods (a tributary of the Brahmani).
- There might be a considerable increase in man–crocodile conflict if estuarine crocodiles depart the core sanctuary territory and migrate upstream as salinity rises.
- Mangroves will be lost as a result of the reduced water supply, and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary would become a marine desert without them.
Bhitarkanika National Park is one of the most popular wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha; it has a diversified flora, including dense Mangrove forests and an amazing fauna that includes a variety of wild animals.
After the country was afflicted by the second wave of COVID-19, the national park was closed to visitors. It was supposed to reopen on 31st July 2021, but plans fell through. However, the park has now been reopened to the public, bearing in mind the saltwater crocodiles' mating season.
FAQs on Bhitarkanika National Park
Q1. Which state is Bhitarkanika National Park located in?
Ans. Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the state of Odisha.
Q2. Which river flows through Bhitarkanika National Park?
Ans. The Brahmani and Baitarani Rivers flow through Bhitarkanika National Park.
Q3. Which animal is primarily conserved at the Bhitarkanika National Park?
Ans. The saltwater crocodile is primarily conserved at the Bhitarkanika National Park.
Q4. Bhitarkanika National Park is also known as?
Ans. Bhitarkanika National Park is also known as the "Mini Amazon of India".