Wildlife & Biodiversity

Bhitarkanika: Man taken by estuarine croc in fatal attack  

The man, a milk supplier, was waiting to ford a crocodile-inhabited river when he was dragged and taken

 
By Ashis Senapati
Published: Tuesday 07 July 2020
Locals in Bhitarkanika believe at least six to ten people are maimed by crocodiles annually in the national park. Photo: Ashis Senapati
Locals in Bhitarkanika believe at least six to ten people are maimed by crocodiles annually in the national park. Photo: Ashis Senapati Locals in Bhitarkanika believe at least six to ten people are maimed by crocodiles annually in the national park. Photo: Ashis Senapati

A 42-year-old man was missing, presumed dead, after being dragged into a river by an estuarine crocodile in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park on July 7, 2020.

Ranjan Mohanty, a milk supplier, was attacked in the morning while he was standing near the bank of the crocodile-inhabited Bausagali river in Satabhaya village, waiting to cross it and reach the nearby market at Gupti to supply milk.

“The crocodile suddenly exploded out of the knee-length water, clamping its vice-like jaws and pulled him in. Some villagers raised an alarm and tried to save him. But it was futile,” Karunakar Behera, a boatman at the ghat where Mohanty was standing, said.

“Forest officials, fire brigade personnel and locals launched a search operation. The man’s body is yet to be retrieved. The forest department will provide a compensation amount of Rs 4 lakh to the family members of the victim after due inquiry,” Bikash Ranjan Dash, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the park, said.

Bhitarkanika, a vast tract of forest and swamp, is the home of 1,757 salt water crocodiles according to this year’s reptile census.

The forest department has imposed a three-month-long ban, from May 1 to July 31, on tourists and visitors from entering the park as it is the mating and nesting season of the crocodiles.

To prevent human-crocodile conflict, the state forest and wildlife department has also barricaded around 45 river ghats in the rivers and creeks of around the national park. Villagers have also been warned not to cross the barricade.

The exact and correct figures on crocodile attacks are not available with the forest department.  But locals believe that at least six to ten persons are killed or maimed by crocodiles each year.

“Most of the cases are not reported; people just go missing,” Subhrasnhu Sutar of Rajkanika, one of the areas hit hardest by crocodile attacks, said. 

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