Bhitarkanika is a unique and ecologically significant wildlife sanctuary and national park located in the Kendrapara district of the Indian state of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). It is renowned for its biodiversity, especially its thriving population of saltwater crocodiles. Here are some key features and attractions of Bhitarkanika:
Bhitarkanika is famous for its extensive mangrove forests, which cover an area of about 650 square kilometers. These mangroves are a critical part of the coastal ecosystem, serving as a breeding ground for several species of fish and crustaceans.
The sanctuary is best known for its population of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). It's one of the largest habitats for these crocodiles in India. The park runs a successful crocodile breeding and conservation program, which has contributed to the recovery of this endangered species.
Bhitarkanika is a paradise for bird watchers and ornithologists. It is home to a wide variety of avian species, including kingfishers, egrets, herons, and many migratory birds that visit during the winter months.
The park's estuarine ecosystem supports diverse marine and freshwater species, including various types of fish, crabs, and prawns.
Bhitarkanika is also known for its Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting grounds. Thousands of Olive Ridley turtles visit the beaches here for nesting, making it an important site for turtle conservation.
Visitors can explore the sanctuary through boat tours along its numerous creeks, rivers, and waterways. These tours provide an opportunity to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.
Temples and Cultural Heritage
Apart from its rich natural heritage, Bhitarkanika also has cultural significance. There are ancient temples in the area, such as the Gupti Ghat temple, which attract pilgrims and tourists.
Crocodile Research Center
The Crocodile Research Center at Dangamal is a significant facility where researchers study and conserve crocodile populations. Visitors can learn about these reptiles and their conservation efforts here.
Simlipal Tiger Reserve
Bhitarkanika is relatively close to the Simlipal Tiger Reserve, another important wildlife sanctuary in Odisha. It's possible to plan a combined visit to both areas.
The park offers wildlife safaris, which allow visitors to explore the sanctuary's diverse ecosystems and spot various wildlife species.
Bhitarkanika is a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. It offers a chance to experience the beauty of pristine mangrove forests, observe a wide range of wildlife, and appreciate the ecological importance of these unique ecosystems. It's an excellent destination for those interested in ecotourism and conservation efforts.