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World's Largest Reptile Found in India
Giant estuarine crocodile finds place in Guinness World Records
Braja Kishore Mishra (braja)     Print Article 
Published 2006-06-14 16:04 (KST)   
The largest reptile in the world is the estuarine crocodile housed in the Bhitarkanika Wild Life sanctuary in Orissa, India. At over seven meters long, the Saltwater crocodile has found a place in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records.

The crocodile, which ranges throughout the tropical regions of the Asia-Pacific, occurs abundantly in vast delta regions and estuaries with deep continuous tidal forests.

saltwater crocodile
©2006 wildlife directorate, government of orissa

All three species of crocodiles -- Gharial, Mugger and Saltwater -- in the river systems of Orissa were on the verge of extinction by the 1970s. The crocodiles were very few because of ever increasing human activity in the rivers and in their other traditional habitats.

As a result, in 1976, the state government launched the crocodile conservation program with funds and technical support from the UNDP and FAO through the Government of India, said principal chief wildlife warden Suresh Chandra Mohanty on June 12.

The Gharial and Saltwater crocodile conservation program preceded the Mugger conservation program. Orissa has the distinction of being home for all three species of Indian crocodiles, Mohanty added.

He said that the crocodile population is on the rise. There are 1462 Saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanika National Park, which is up from 1358 in 2004, according to the 2006 census.

"Crocodile conservation measures have paid off in Bhitarkanika and it is a great success story," Mohanty said.

Bhitarkanika, which has good mangrove cover and less human disturbances along with a large network of rivers and creeks, is home to 84 percent of the entire present crocodile population.

Thus, over 70 percent of all crocodiles are restricted into only a 30 percent area of the Khola-Brahmani river confluence of Bhitarkanika National Park, said Sudhakar Kar, project head of the crocodile conservation program.

Kar said that wildlife officials spotted well over 60 nests in the estuaries of Bhitarkanika during the census. There are crocodiles up to ten meters long in the sanctuary, added an official.

This article appeared on the author's Web site on June 13.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Braja Kishore Mishra

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