Odisha's Kendrapara district, crisscrossed by rivers, creeks and water inlets, has earned the distinction of being the only district in India where all three species of crocodiles-
- Odisha's Kendrapara district has already claimed fame for its successful conservation programme for salt-water or estuarine crocodiles at the Bhitarkanika National Park.
- The national park, having 1,768 estuarine crocodiles, is home to 70 per cent of India's such crocodiles, the conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
- It is the second largest mangrove forest in India after Sunderbans, hosts the largest population of saltwater crocodiles, including white albino crocodiles.
- It is listed as a Ramsar Site.
Crocodile in Orissa
- The crocodilian family consists of 27 different species that are subdivided into three families: True crocodiles, alligators and caimans and gharials.
- All three species of crocodilians in the river systems of Odisha:
- Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN.
- Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), listed as vulnerable by IUCN.
- Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), listed as least concern by IUCN
- The gharial and saltwater crocodile conservation programme was first implemented in Odisha in early 1975 and subsequently, the mugger conservation programme was initiated.
- The Ramatirtha centre, meant for mugger crocodiles within the Similipal Tiger Reserve, initially started with eggs and juveniles of muggers procured from Tamil Nadu.
- Since 1984, more than 600 muggers have been captive-bred and released in Similipal.
- A gharial project was started at Tikarpada in Angul district in 1975 with an aim to increase their population.
- In 1975, the Union ministry of forest and environment, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamala within the Bhitarkanika.
- In January 2021, there were 1,768 saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanika, up from 96 in 1974.