3700 Baby Estuarine Crocodiles Break Out Of Eggshells In Odisha’s Bhitarkanika
Kendrapada: A record of 3,700 baby estuarine crocodiles emerged from 122 nests to make their way to water bodies in and around the Bhitarkanika national park, marking the culmination of the annual breeding and nesting season of these reptiles.
Female crocodiles lay 50 to 60 eggs and the hatchlings usually emerge from the nests after 70 to 80 days of the incubation period. Around 50 per cent of hatchlings are born from each nest and one in 500 reaches adulthood as their mortality rate is very high. In the wild, babies are devoured by predating aquatic animals. The sex of a baby crocodile depends on the temperature of its egg in the first half of its nurture period.
“Crocodiles usually build nests in areas on high ground so that they do not get inundated during the high tide of floodwaters during the rainy season and can access direct sunlight,” said Herpetologist and wildlife researcher Sudhakar Kar to TNIE.
Notably, 84 nests were sighted and around 2,500 baby crocodiles were born in 2021, 3,000 in 2020 and as many in 2019, while 2,900 hatchlings had broken out of their eggshells in 2018 and 2,500 in 2017.
It is pertinent to mention here that the national park was closed from May 1 to July 31 in view of the annual nesting of crocodiles, which lay eggs on the surface. The reptiles often turn violent and attack intruders during this period.
Tourists can visit the national park through the water route from Gupti, Khola and Chandbali, or enter the main gate from Dangamal. Cottages have been set up in Dangamal and Gupti for them.