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  • Context (DTE): The number of saltwater or estuarine crocodiles in and around Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park has slightly increased in 2024.

Saltwater or estuarine crocodiles

  • Distribution: Abundant in areas like the Sundarbans, Bhitarkanika National Park, and A&N Islands.
    • Apart from the eastern coast of India, the saltwater crocodile is extremely rare on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Habitat: Thrives in saltwater habitats such as mangrove swamps, estuaries, and coastal areas.
  • Size: It is the largest of all crocodilians and the largest reptile in the world.
  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix I (except the populations of Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, which are included in Appendix II).
  • WPA, 1972: Schedule I

Other Crocodile Species in India

  • Gharials (Critically Endangered) once thrived in all the major river systems of the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Today, they are extinct in the Indus River, in the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh, and in the Irrawaddy River.
  • Their distribution is limited to only 2% of their former range.
  • The Mugger (or marsh) crocodile (Vulnerable) is a freshwater species found sparsely in various lakes, rivers and marshes in the Indian subcontinent.

Bhitarkanika National Park

  • It is the second Ramsar Site of Odisha after Chilika Lake.
  • Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary separates the National Park from the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is inundated by the rivers Brahmani, Baitarani & Dhamra.
  • It hosts many mangrove species and is the second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
  • Major Fauna: Saltwater (Estuarine) Crocodile (LC).
  • Major Flora: Mangrove species.

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