Sib Kumar Das

GHODAHADA: The findings of the second annual crocodile enumeration in the Ghodahada reservoir hints that it is fast emerging as a future crocodile reserve in Orissa.

The two-day crocodile census in the reservoir concluded on Friday. Another census of these large reptiles would be conducted after two weeks to confirm the data of recent enumeration, said the Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), A.K.Jena, who monitored the enumeration process.

The presence of large numbers of crocodiles in the Ghodahada came into light only a year back when a detailed survey and crocodile census was conducted in the reservoir by the forest department. Till then it was only hearsay from the local fishermen that crocodiles existed in the reservoir.

As per the data of the recent enumeration, the number of sighting of large crocodiles has increased. The good news is that the number of young crocodiles is also on the rise. Last year they had sighted 29 mature Mugger (crocodilus palustris) crocodiles which were up to 13 feet in length. This year the sighting of these large crocodiles is around 50. A large number of two to four feet long young ones are also being sighted. So, it is felt that the total number of crocodiles in the reservoir may be around 200.

Mr Jena said the presence of crocodiles in this reservoir can be attributed to the erstwhile Zamindars of the area who had kept some Muggers in a pond near the Ujaleswar temple near the Ghodahada reservoir. During rainy season some of these muggers may have migrated to the large reservoir. Getting conducive environment they bred in large number in the reservoir during past few decades.

The Ghodahada reservoir is part of a medium irrigation project constructed on the Ghodahada River near border of Ganjam and Gajapati districts.

The work on this project had started in 1962 and it had completed in 1977. It is suspected that the crocodiles migrated to reservoir from the nearby Ujaleswar tank during later part of seventies.