35 crocodiles, including four albinos, released in river at Sunderbans

35 crocodiles, including four albinos, released in river at Sunderbans

kolkata: About 35 crocodiles, including four albinos, were released at three locations in Sunderbans on Monday morning.

The crocodiles—3 males and 32 females were released at Kalmi River, Bhaijora canal and Lothian Island.

All the crocodiles are more than 1.2 metre (4 feet) in length and have been incubated and reared at Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project at Bakkhali in South 24-Parganas.

The crocodiles were released in presence of DFO Milan Mandal and ADFOs of 24-Parganas (South) division.

Last year, 55 crocodiles were released. Saltwater crocodile is one of the most important species and the apex predator of estuarine ecosystem. It not only takes fresh fleshy foods, but also consumes rotten carcass of the animal and thereby helps to clear the river water.

The aim of the conservation breeding programme is to conserve the genetic diversity of the species and restock or reintroduce the species to re-establish self sustaining population in its natural habitat. The animal is released in the rivers of the Sunderbans after it attains an age of four years.

The breeding programme of the salt water crocodiles had started in 1976 at Bhagabatpur in Sundarban to increase the population.

The state Forest department released 5 sub- adult crocodiles in the core area of the Sundarbans after successful breeding only last month.

Presently, the site has 6 breeding pools and 14 enclosures containing water tanks for keeping hatchlings of different age The last census of saltwater crocodile in the Sunderbans recorded 240 animals (141 direct sighting and 99 indirect sighting).

"Due to climate change and increasing habitat destruction, the coastal areas where saltwater crocodiles normally breed are decreasing which may affect their population in near future," an official in the Forest department said.

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