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Crocodiles UPSC NOTE

 

Crocodiles

  • Crocodiles (family Crocodylidae) or true crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. 

  • All crocodiles are semiaquatic and tend to congregate in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and sometimes in brackish water and saltwater.

  • All crocodiles are tropical species.

Why it is in news?

  • Over the last decade, most human-crocodile conflicts have been reported from areas around Bhitarkanika National Park, India’s largest habitation of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles.

  • The reptile is considered the largest of the living crocodilians in the world, with males growing up to 20 feet and weighing over 1,000 kg. 

  • But the four lakh people living around the national park, on the banks of rivers, worry about crocodile attacks and losing their connection with rivers.

  • The Brahmani and the 365-km-long Baitarani rivers meet the Bay of Bengal near Bhitarkanika, the tides from the sea creating a unique world for flora and fauna. 

  • Crocodiles live in the Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem, preying on the fish and crabs. 

  • But during the monsoon, when rivers flood, they are pushed into smaller water bodies. 

  • In the breeding season, which coincides with the rainy season, crocodiles become aggressive, to protect their hatchlings. 

  • The estuarine crocodile (crocodylus porosus) is identified in the Red List of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

  • It is, however, listed in India under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in Schedule I, meaning it is one of the 62 reptiles that receive topmost protection.

  • Researchers say increasing human-crocodile conflicts could be attributed to overpopulation of the species in Bhitarkanika National Park.

  • The impact of climate change within the mangrove habitats, especially the mud banks favoured by adults for basking, is uncertain, with some erosion and deposition of sediments.

  • Increased rainfall and flooding in the monsoon are likely to cause changes in the available basking habitats. 

  • The sea-level rise will tend to reduce these areas... so crocodiles may seek other basking areas outside the site, leading potentially to human-animal conflict.

Pathshala River

Pathshala River

  • Pathsala river part of Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha.

Brahmani River

Brahmani River

  • The Brahmani is a major seasonal river in the Odisha.

  • Together with the river Baitarani, Brahmani forms a large delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra. 

  • It is the second widest river in Odisha after Mahanadi.

  • At about 480 kilometres long, the Brahmani is the second longest river in Odisha after the Mahanadi.

  • The Brahmani delta is the site of the Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, famous for its estuarine crocodiles.


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