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A 12-foot long mugger crocodile which had strayed from far-off Satakosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district to Luna rivulet of Mahanadi river system near Kendrapara town was caught alive by wildlife personnel with the help of skilled fishermen after a six-hour effort. The giant male carnivorous species was sighted in the rivulet near Bilabalrampur village last week which had triggered panic in the riverside areas with the people becoming apprehensive of a possible attack.
“It had strayed from Satakosia gorge of Mahanadi river system and might have adapted itself to the new water body in its search of a suitable habitat,” DFO Bimal Prasanna Acharya said.
Never before, a mugger crocodile, which is a highly endangered species and whose population is much lower than that of salt water crocodiles, been sighted in the Mahanadi river system in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts, the DFO said.
While 1671 estuarine crocodiles are in Bhitarkanika area, the mugger population stands at 116, he said.
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The mugger species after being captured was handed over to Nandankanan zoological park officials as it could be better protected and taken care of by the park authorities, officials said.
“We had a tough time in capturing it. We had deployed a service group of skilled fishermen from Bhitarkanika national park to catch the animal alive,” forest range officer, Himanshu Kumar Muduli, said.
Adhering to localised indigenous technique, the group who had boarded a boat took about six hours to capture the mugger species yesterday.
First, they located it and then chased it to a narrow creek with bamboo sticks and nets.
After that, they hurled fishing nets to net it. The crocodile failed to retreat and got entangled in the nets.
“Best possible efforts had been made so that no harm was done to the animal during the operation,” the range officer said.
Of late the straying of crocodiles into thickly -populated localities have become a matter of concern for the forest authorities.
On October 17, a 3.5 foot-long female estuarine crocodile that had strayed from Bhitarkanika river system into a village pond in Marshaghai had been captured and released into the wild.