A Journey through the Mangroves

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Odisha is an amazing land to observe and travel. It is a Ramsar site and sustains wide range of flora and fauna diversity. Here we can see some of the largest Saltwater Crocodiles in India. It is said that in 2006 Guinness World Record had accepted that there is a male Crocodile whose length is around 7.1 m and it resides in Bhitarkanika. I went there with an ambition to observe the mangrove ecosystems in India. We were lucky to find some large and small saltwater crocodiles in this journey. After all, Bhitarkanika Mangroves is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.

Salties as informally known, these Saltwater Crocodiles are largest living reptiles. They are apex predators of this ecosystem. They can ambush any type of prey that enters their turf. In the water this species almost have less enemies in other species to fear about after reaching a considerable length. Excellent swimmers, they can swim long distances even in the sea. It is mentioned that they use the help of ocean currents. So they can travel a lot.

We were in the boat, when we found one big Crocodile basking in the Sun. Silent it stayed, to warm up and store energy to move later. A little further away we saw one among the grasses. A perfect spot for ambush spot as there are the mammals which come to drink water. Another one came floating in the water and very less part of its large body was visible above the water.

These Mangroves are good spot for birding too. It was for the first time I saw the White Bellied Sea Eagle here. With their habitats shrinking, pollution and lack of food sources their population is decreasing. They are carnivores and they even feed on carrion.

Another interesting sighting was of Black Capped Kingfisher in the mangroves. For me it was about the relationship these birds have to their habitats which is fascinating. From breeding, feeding and spending their whole life around these places any change in the ecosystem effects their population. Such wonderful life forms and their existence depend on how we as humans respect their home.

Mangroves not only support wide variety of biodiversity but also protect the land from natural calamities like Storms, Floods, Tsunami etc. It is our natural preventive mechanism against the loss of lives and economic devastation that is caused by natural calamities. As Climate Crisis looms over us, we need to protect and restore the Mangroves habitats as much as possible. It is our insurance for sustenance of our species. It is important like maintenance of boat that people travel, well maintained ecosystems are the nature’s regenerative resources…

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