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Bhitarkanika Mangroves

The Bhitarkanika Mangroves are a mangrove wetland in India's Orissa state. The Bhitarkanika Mangroves cover an area of 650 km² in the river delta of the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers.

History

The Bhitarkanika Mangroves were Zamindari forests until 1952, when the government of Orissa abolished the Zamindari system, and put the Zamindari forests in the control of the state forest department. In 1975, an area of 672 km² was declared the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. The core area of the sanctuary, with an area of 145 km², was declared Bhitarkanika National Park in September 1998. The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, was created in September 1997, and encompasses Gahirmatha Beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal. Bhitarkanika Mangroves were designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002.

Ecology

The Bhitarkanika Mangroves are home to 55 of India's 58 known mangrove species. The mangroves harbor one of India's largest populations of saltwater crocodiles, and Gahirmatha Beach, which separates the mangroves from the Bay of Bengal, is the world's most important nesting beach for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Some wildlife experts are of the opinion that the largest saltwater crocodile ever was in Bhitarkanika, measuring an estimated 23 feet (7.0 m) which could be traced from the skull preserved by the Kanika Royal Family. The crocodile was shot near Dhamara in 1926, and later its skull was preserved by the then Kanika King. Crocodile experts estimate the animal to have been between 20 feet (6.1 m) and 23 feet (7.0 m) long, as the size of the skull was measured one ninth of the total length of the body. The wetland also hosts a large and diverse population of resident and migratory birds. Rhesus monkey, leopard, leopard cat, fishing cat, jungle cat, small Indian civet cat, toddy cat, common mongoose, jackal, striped hyena, Indian fox, wild pig, Indian porcupine, mole rat, long tailed tree mouse, spotted deer, sambar, common otter, smooth Indian otter are also found here.

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    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhitarkanika_Mangroves
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