Sunday, May 21, 2023

Bhitarkanika National Park

Bhitarkanika National Park UPSC

Bhitarkanika National Park is a renowned national park located in the state of Odisha, India. It is known for its unique mangrove ecosystems, rich biodiversity, and conservation efforts. 


Bhitarkanika is famous for its extensive mangrove forests, which cover a significant portion of the park. The mangrove ecosystem plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of the region by acting as a protective buffer against coastal erosion, providing habitat for various species, and serving as a nursery for numerous marine organisms.


Bhitarkanika National Park is renowned for its rich and varied wildlife. It is home to several species, including the endangered saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The park has one of the largest populations of saltwater crocodiles in India. Other notable fauna includes Indian pythons, water monitors, kingfishers, egrets, otters, and various species of turtles and birds.


Table of Contents

  • Bhitarkanika National Park Location
  • Bhitarkanika National Park History
  • Bhitarkanika National Park Area
  • Bhitarkanika National Park River
    • Brahmani River
    • Baitarni River
    • Dhamra River
    • Pathsala River
  • Bhitarkanika National Park Flora
    • Mangroves
    • Salt-Tolerant Plants
    • Wetland Flora
    • Forest Trees
    • Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
  • Bhitarkanika National Park Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
  • Saltwater Crocodiles
    • Crocodile Conservation Project
  • Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
    • Nesting Site
    • Arribada
    • Nesting Behavior
    • Hatching
    • Conservation Efforts
  • Top Things to do in Bhitarkanika National Park
  • Bhitarkanika National Park UPSC Questions


Bhitarkanika National Park Location

Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the Kendrapara district of Odisha, India. It is located in the Brahmani-Baitrani estuarial zone, with the Bay of Bengal to the east.


The national park is surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. 


Bhitarkanika National Park Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Bhitarkanika National Park is Biju Patanaik Air Port, Bhubaneswar, which is located at a distance of 132 km.


Bhitarkanika National Park Nearest Railways Station:

The nearest railway station to Bhitarkanika National Park is Bhadrak Railway Station. Bhadrak Railway Station is well-connected to various major cities in India, including Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, and Chennai. From Bhadrak Railway Station, Bhitarkanika National Park can be reached by road, which is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. 




Bhitarkanika National Park History

Bhitarkanika National Park has a rich history that spans several centuries. The region has been historically associated with the conservation and protection of wildlife and mangrove ecosystems. 


Here is a brief overview of the history of Bhitarkanika National Park:


Royal Hunting Preserve: During the British colonial period, Bhitarkanika was designated as a hunting reserve or game sanctuary for the royal families. It was primarily used as a hunting ground for tigers and other wild animals.


Recognition as Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1975, Bhitarkanika was declared a wildlife sanctuary by the Odisha government to protect its unique mangrove ecosystems, flora, and fauna.


National Park Status: In 1998, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary was upgraded to the status of a national park, becoming Bhitarkanika National Park. The primary objective of this upgrade was to enhance the protection and conservation efforts for the rich biodiversity found in the area.


Ramsar Site: In 2002, Bhitarkanika was designated as a Ramsar site, recognizing its importance as a wetland of international significance. The Ramsar Convention aims to conserve and sustainably utilize wetlands worldwide.




Bhitarkanika National Park Area

Bhitarkanika National Park is spread over an area of 145 km2 (56 sq mi). Bhitarkanika National Park is surrounded by Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, which spread over 672 km2 (259 sq mi).


The terrain of Bhitarkanika National Park is characterized by tidal creeks, mudflats, marshes, and dense mangrove forests. These mangroves form a unique and vital ecosystem that thrives in the brackish water environment found along the Bay of Bengal coast.




Bhitarkanika National Park River

Bhitarkanika National Park is crisscrossed by several rivers and creeks, enhancing its natural beauty and ecological significance. 


The Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, and Pathsala rivers flows through the national park.


(1) Brahmani River:

The Brahmani River forms the northern boundary of Bhitarkanika National Park. It is one of the major rivers in Odisha and plays a crucial role in the park's hydrology and ecosystem dynamics.


  • It is a major seasonal river in the Odisha. 
  • It is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers. 
  • It flows through the Sundargarh, Deogarh, Angul, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Jajapur and Kendrapara districts of Odisha, India.
  • It is about 480 kilometres (300 mi) long.
  • The Brahmani is the second longest river in Odisha after the Mahanadi.
  • Together with the river Baitarani, Brahmani forms a large delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra. 


(2) Baitarni River:

The Baitarani River flows along the western boundary of the park. It is another significant river in Odisha and contributes to the diverse habitats and water flow within the park.


  • The Baitarani originates from the Gonasika/Guptaganga hills in Keonjhar district of Odisha.
  • It is about 360 km (220 mi) long.


(3) Dhamra River:

The Dhamra River is located in close proximity to Bhitarkanika National Park. It is a distributary of the Baitarani River and forms part of the park's eastern border.


  • Dhamara is formed by the confluence of the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers.
  • It lies in the Bhadrak district of Odhisha.
  • It empties into the Bay of Bengal. 
  • The Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, famous for its estuarine crocodiles lie on the Dhamra estuary.
  • Wheeler Island, a DRDO missile launch centre is located off the mouth of the Dhamra in the Bay of Bengal.


(4) Pathsala River:

Pathsala River flow through Bhitarkanika National Park.




Bhitarkanika National Park Flora

Bhitarkanika National Park is renowned for its diverse and rich flora, especially its mangrove ecosystems. The park is home to a variety of plant species that have adapted to the unique brackish water environment of the mangroves. 


The flora of Bhitarkanika National Park not only supports a diverse range of wildlife but also contributes to the overall ecological balance and functioning of the mangrove ecosystem. The park's flora plays a crucial role in stabilizing the soil, providing habitat for numerous species, and acting as a buffer against coastal erosion.


Here are some notable flora found in Bhitarkanika National Park:


(1) Mangroves:

Bhitarkanika is known for its extensive mangrove forests, which cover approximately 65% of the park's area. Bhitarkanika is India’s second largest mangrove ecosystem after the Sunderbans. Bhitarkanika National Park is commonly known as India's Mini Amazon.


Various species of mangroves thrive here, including the dominant ones like the Sundari (Heritiera fomes), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), and Bani (Avicennia spp.). These mangrove trees have specialized adaptations to survive in the saline and waterlogged conditions of the tidal creeks and estuaries.


(2) Salt-Tolerant Plants:

Apart from mangroves, Bhitarkanika National Park supports a range of salt-tolerant plant species. These plants have the ability to withstand the high salinity of the water and soil in the park's coastal environment. Some examples include the Kankra (Bruguiera spp.), Hental (Aegiceras corniculatum), and Sundri khaoa (Xylocarpus spp.).


(3) Wetland Flora:

The wetlands and marshy areas within Bhitarkanika National Park host a diverse array of plants. Reeds, grasses, and sedges are commonly found in these habitats. They provide important nesting and foraging grounds for various bird species.


(4) Forest Trees:

In addition to the mangroves, Bhitarkanika also features patches of moist deciduous forests and moist evergreen forests. These forested areas are home to tree species like Sal (Shorea robusta), Haldina (Haldina cordifolia), Piasal (Pterospermum acerifolium), and Jamun (Syzygium cumini), among others.


(5) Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: 

The Bhitarkanika National Park is also known to have several species of medicinal and aromatic plants. These plants have traditional uses in local communities for various purposes, including herbal medicine and cultural practices.




Bhitarkanika National Park Fauna (Bhitarkanika National Park Animals)

Bhitarkanika National Park is known for its diverse and abundant wildlife. The park provides a habitat for a wide range of animal species, including both terrestrial and aquatic fauna. 


Here are some notable fauna found in Bhitarkanika National Park:


Mammals:

  • Chitals
  • Sambar
  • Spotted Deer
  • Jungle Cats
  • Wild Pigs
  • Otter
  • Rhesus Monkeys
  • Wild Boar
  • Fishing Cat
  • Leopard Cat
  • Common Mongoose
  • Small Indian Porcupine
  • Indian Field Mouse
  • House Shrew
  • Jackals
  • Fox
  • Common Langur
  • Wolf
  • Hyena


Birds: (Which bird is found in Bhitarkanika National Park?)

  • Cormorants
  • Darters
  • Black Ibis
  • Egrets
  • Open-billed Storks
  • Sandpipers
  • Sea Eagles
  • Whistling Teals
  • Kites
  • Sea Gulls
  • Kingfisher
  • Brahminy Duck
  • White Bellied Sea Eagle
  • Woodpecker
  • Hornbill
  • Wader
  • Bar Headed Geese
  • Pintail
  • White Bellied Sea Eagle
  • Tern 


Reptiles:

  • Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
  • Saltwater Crocodile
  • Water Monitor Lizards
  • White Crocodile
  • Python
  • King Cobra
  • Indian chameleon
  • Fan-throated lizard
  • Yellow monitor lizard
  • Spotted Indian House Gecko
  • Golden Tree Snake
  • Common Vine Snake
  • Terrapin
  • Marine Turtle




Bhitarkanika National Park Crocodile

Bhitarkanika National Park is famous for its population of saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). These crocodiles are one of the key attractions and iconic species of the park. 


Bhitarkanika is home to the largest congregation of the endangered Salt Water Crocodiles in the country. Bhitarkanika National Park is the breeding place for the endangered saltwater crocodiles.


In 1975, The crocodile conservation project in Bhitarkanika was started by India Government.


In 2006, a 23-foot salt-water crocodile from the park entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crocodile in the world.



What is Crocodile Conservation Project?

In 1975, the Union ministry of forest and environment, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, started a crocodile hatchery and rearing project in Dangmal within the Bhitarkanika National Park.


The crocodile population increased from 96 in 1974 to 1,784 in January 2022, because of the success of this project. 




Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Bhitarkanika

Bhitarkanika National Park is adjacent to the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, which is a significant nesting site for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles. These turtles migrate thousands of kilometers to lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of Gahirmatha, making it one of the world's largest mass nesting sites for these turtles.


Here are some key facts about Olive Ridley sea turtles in Bhitarkanika:


Nesting Site: Bhitarkanika's coastline, specifically Gahirmatha Beach, is a significant nesting ground for Olive Ridley sea turtles. Every year, thousands of female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the sandy beaches of the park.


Arribada: Bhitarkanika witnesses an arribada, which is a mass nesting phenomenon, where thousands of turtles arrive together to nest. This unique event typically occurs from November to January, with the peak nesting season usually in December.


Nesting Behavior: Female Olive Ridley turtles return to the same beach where they hatched to lay their eggs. They dig pits in the sand and lay a clutch of approximately 100 to 150 eggs. After covering the nest, they return to the sea, leaving the eggs to incubate for about 45 to 60 days.


Hatching: The hatchlings emerge from the nest and make their way to the sea under the cover of darkness. They rely on the natural light and reflection of the moon on the water to guide them. The journey from the nest to the sea is crucial, and any artificial light or disturbances can disorient and endanger the hatchlings.


Conservation Efforts: Bhitarkanika National Park, in collaboration with various organizations and government agencies, has undertaken several conservation initiatives to protect Olive Ridley sea turtles. Measures such as beach patrolling, monitoring of nesting sites, and raising awareness among local communities and visitors are implemented to ensure the safety and conservation of these turtles.




Top Things to do in Bhitarkanika National Park

Bhitarkanika National Park offers a range of activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy its unique natural beauty and wildlife. 


Here are some of the top things to do in Bhitarkanika National Park:


  • Boat Safari
  • Wildlife Spotting
  • Birdwatching
  • Visit Gahirmatha Beach
  • Trekking
  • Visit Crocodile Breeding Center
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Photography


It's important to note that some activities, such as visiting nesting sites or accessing certain areas, may require permissions or be subject to specific guidelines to ensure the well-being of the wildlife and their habitats. It is recommended to check with the park authorities or avail the services of authorized guides to make the most of your visit to Bhitarkanika National Park.




Bhitarkanika National Park UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Bhitarkanika National Park located?/Bhitarkanika National Park is located in which state?/ In which district is Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary located?

A. Bhitarkanika National Park is located in the Kendrapara district of Odisha, India.


Q. Bhitarkanika National Park is famous for which animal?

A. Bhitarkanika National Park is famous for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, Saltwater Crocodile and Water Monitor Lizard.


Q. What is Bhitarkanika famous for?

A. Bhitarkanika National Park is famous for nesting ground for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.


Q. Which two rivers merge in Bhitarkanika?/Which two rivers meet at bhitarkanika National Park?

A. Brahmani and Baitarani rivers merge in Bhitarkanika.


Q. Which river flows in Bhitarkanika?

A. Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra and Pathsala river flows in Bhitarkanika.


Q. What is the name of white crocodile in Bhitarkanika?

A. Gori is the name of white crocodile in Bhitarkanika.


Q. What is the largest crocodile in Bhitarkanika?

A. In 2006, a 23-foot salt-water crocodile from the park entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crocodile in the world.

Bhitarkanika National Park

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