The state forest department, along with a local organisation in Raigad district, has begun a two-year project to study the presence and congregation of crocodiles and their movement in and around the Savitri riverine system (Savitri, Kal and Gandhari rivers).
After crocodile sightings in the district increased in the last five years, the Organisation for Wildlife Studies (OWLS) began a crocodile survey on the 40 km stretch of the riverine system. The survey aims to obtain details on the population and habitat of crocodiles. Starting in June, OWLS has completed a survey of 14 villages of 85 located on the banks of these rivers.
“The village survey includes educating the masses, finding details on where the crocodiles were spotted and in which month the sightings were high according to villagers,” said Ganesh Mehendale, president of OWLS. “Despite the presence of many crocodiles in the Mahad taluka, there has been no man-crocodile conflict. We might gain some interesting findings, which can be implemented
in areas where man-crocodile conflict is high.”
After monsoon, volunteers will conduct the survey on either side of the riverbank and collect data on crocodile sightings, their nesting sites and locations where they are frequently found. With its findings, they also aim to conceptualise crocodile conservation methods. The study area includes Mahad, Mangaon, Mhasala and Shrivardhan tehsil of Raigad district and Mandangad tehsil of Ratnagiri.
“We don’t have any baseline data to prepare for crocodile conservation methods. We know about their presence in the river system, but no data is available. With the survey, we will get information and can, in turn, avoid any man-crocodile conflict,” said Sunil Limaye, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.