Monday, July 15, 2024

Tourism      Wildlife      National Parks      Orissa     Kendrapara    

Bhitarkanika National Park




Kendrapara district, Orissa



India's second largest mangrove forest

Best Season


November to February

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Orissa State has three prominent bird habitats - Bhitarkanika, the Nalabana island in the Chilika lake and the Nandankanan botanical garden on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

Among them, Bhitarkanika represents one of the finest creations ever. One of the largest Mangrove Eco systems in India, Bhitarkanika is widely known as the India's second largest mangrove forest and turtle nesting beaches. It is home to diverse flora and fauna. The wetland is represented by 3 protected areas, namely 'Bhitarkanika National Park', 'Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary' and 'Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary'. Located at a distance of about 174 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar in Kendrapara district, it is an adevnturer's paradise.

Declared a sanctuary in 1975 in order to protect the saltwater crocodile and other marine inhabitants of the region, it was found a mention in the Guinness World Records in 2006 with its 23-foot-long saltwater crocodile listed as the largest in the world.

It contains tidal swamp forests consisting of an abundance of mangrove forests in the rivers Brahmani- Bhaitarani Delta, saltwater and brackish water mixed species such as Causarinas, Thespia, grasses like indigo bush etc.

Covers an area of, it is better known as a marine park. It was notified as a Crocodile sanctuary in 1975 and a crocodile breeding centre has been established by the Orissa Government.

The park situated along the Gahiramatha Coast is a haven for thousands of marine species especially the Olive ridley turtles which come here to lay eggs during the nights in winter. The giant Pacific Ridley sea turtles believed to come as far away as South America nest on the Gahirmatha Coast.

Bhitarkanika's mangrove forest is home to 5000 endangered spotted deer and about 1200 wild boars. The other fauna found here are Wild pigs, Rhesus monkeys, Leopard, Hyena, Jungle cat, Sambar, Giant squirrel, Water monitor, Chitals, King cobra, Python, Fishes besides insects and other micro fauna.

There are plenty of birds too. It is home to over 200 species of birds, including 98 species of migratory birds. Every year several species of winter migratory as well as residential birds throng the Bhitarkanika as it provides a congenial atmosphere for them to settle down for breeding and nesting. More then a million migratory birds from places as far as Siberia and Iraq flock to various sites of Orissa in October and return in March. Some rare and endangered bird species listed in the Red Data book of International Union Conservation (IUCN) like Indian Skimmer, Brahmin Ducks, Avocet, Godwin, Pintail, Pinted Stork, Seagulls, Tawny Eagle, Osprey and Bar-headed Geese, were sighted. The shore bird species like Sand piper, Plover, Ducks, Goose, White necked sea eagle, Fish Eagle, Heron, Cormorants, Spoon bill, Fish Eagle and Egrate were spotted on the mangrove trees at Barunei Muhana, Chataka, Praharajpur, Bagagahan and Raitapatia.

Before entering to the sanctuary , one has to apply for entry permit and obtain the permit from D. F. O Rajnagar. The permit has to be produced at Forest Check gates both on Roadways & Water ways. The best season for visiting the park is winter (November to February).