Bhitarakanika has reasons to cheer:
The Bhitarakanika National Park situated in Odisha’s Kendrapara district sees an increase in number of visitors during September, considered an off-season.
National parks in India:
- National parks in India are IUCN category II protected ares.
- India’s first national park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, now known as Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand.
- In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard the habitats of conservation reliant species.
- As of July 2017, there were 103 national parks
- According to the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, a national park is an area, whether within a sanctuary or not, that can be notified by the state government to be constituted as a National Park, by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, or zoological association or importance, needed to for the purpose of protecting & propagating or developing wildlife therein or its environment.
- No human activity is permitted inside the national park
- National park is an area which is strictly reserved for the betterment of the wildlife & biodiversity, and where activities like developmental, forestry, poaching, hunting and grazing on cultivation are not permitted.
The term ‘National Park’ should denote an area:
- which is, set aside for the protection and conservation of outstanding natural fauna, flora, geological formations and natural scenic;
- in which hunting, killing or capturing of fauna, or deprivation of any wild animal of its habitat, or destruction and collection of flora, and weapons are all prohibited except for the improvement and a better management of wildlife therein, and on condition that these issues are handled by, or are under the control of, the park authorities;
- where also, grazing [of any live-stock] shall not be permitted.
- No alteration of the boundaries of a National Park shall be made except on the resolution passed by the legislature of the State (Wildlife Protection Society of India, 2003., Thane Riney, 1982).
About Bhitarakanika National Park:
- Bhitarkanika National Park is a national park located in Kendrapara district of Odisha in eastern India.
- The national park is surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies to the east, and separates swamp region cover with canopy of mangroves from the Bay of Bengal . Thus it become a vicinity of rich biodiversity.
- The national park was created in September 1998 from the core area of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, which was created in 1975. The sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
- The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by a number of rivers – Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, Pathsala and others
It has much significance with regard to ecological, geomorphological and biological background which includes mangrove forests, rivers, creeks, estuaries, back water, accreted land and mud flats. Bhitarkanika National Park is the core area of Bhitarkanika Sanctuary.
Flora and fauna:
Flora: Mangroves, trees like sundari, thespia, casuarinas, and grasses like the indigo bush, and more.
- The park is home to Saltwater Crocodile, White Crocodile, and Indian python. King Cobra, black ibis, and many other species of flora and fauna.
- Bhitarakanika continues to be one of the best natural abode for the estuarine crocodile
- Apart from crocodiles, meandering water courses flanked by green mangrove forests and migratory birds flocking in search of prey in the swampy fields of Bhitarakanika are some of the major attractions
- The forest department has come across 80 crocodile nests in their wild habitats in 2017 compared to 75 in 2016 and 70 in 2015.
- According to the National Park authorities, mammals found in the place include leopards, wild boars, fishing cats, hyenas, sambar deer and Gangetic dolphins.
- Reptiles include olive ridley sea turtles, crocodiles, water monitors, pythons and king cobras.
- Around 166 species of birds have been spotted in the park
- Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove genes.
- Researchers have come across 11 of the 70 mangrove species in Bhitarakanika which were at an elevated threat of extinction around the world.
- Within the Bhitarkanika Forest Block near Suajore creek from the month of June to October. Most of the Birds are Asian open bill. Egrets. Black Ibis, Cormorants, Darters & etc.
Mangroves and wildlife:
- Mangroves are salt tolerant, complex and dynamic eco-systems that occur in tropical and subtropical inter-tidal regions.
- Bhitarkanika is one such location of rich, lush green vibrant eco-system lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani
About Mangrove forests in India:
- A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water .The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species. Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics , mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S
- Mangroves are salt tolerant trees, also called halophytes , and are adapted to life in harsh coastal conditions.
- They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action.
- They are adapted to the low oxygen (anoxic) conditions of waterlogged mud.
Locations in India:
- Sundarbans Mangroves: The Great Sundarbans, the largest mangroves region in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world, covering parts of Bangladesh’s Khulna Division and the Indian State of West Bengal.
- The deltas of the Ganges, Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri rivers are known to contain mangrove forests.
- Bhitarkanika Mangroves: Mangroves is India’s second largest forest, located in the state of Odisha. Bhitarkanika is created by the two river deltas of Brahmani and Baitarani river and one of the important Ramsar Wetland in India.
- The Godavari-Krishna mangroves lies in the delta of the Godavari and Krishna rivers in the state of Andhra Pradesh Mangroves ecoregion is under protection for Calimere Wildlife and Pulicate Lake Bird Sanctuary
- Pichavaram Mangroves: Pichavram mangrove is the world’s second largest mangrove forest, situated at Pichavaram near Chidambaram in the state of Tamil Nadu. Pichavaram ranks amongst one of the most exquisite scenic spots in Tamil Nadu and home of many species of aquatic bird
- Baratang Island Mangroves: located at Great Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Significance of Mangroves in India:
- It acts as a shield and protect the coastal inhabitants from tsunamis, storms, cyclones, high waves etc
- It acts as a binding agent for soil and prevent soil erosion
- It provides a live support system to coastal inhabitants.
- It acts as a breeding ground for diverse wildlife.
- It plays a critical role in nutrient recycling, and in purification of water.