Bhitarkanika National Park, the country’s second largest mangrove forest after Sunderbans in neighboring West Bengal, may soon be declared a World Heritage Site. Once enlisted under UNESCO list, the park will get more funding from the government and international agencies and will also attract more tourists.
As per reports, UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Management and Training for Asia and the Pacific Region (NWHMTAPR) centre at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, recently gave the green signal to UNESCO to declare Bhitarkanika a World Heritage Site.
A team of four members, headed by wildlife scientist Manoj Nayar from the NWHMTAPR centre at WII Dehradun, had visited Bhitarkanika in August to prepare a dossier recommending to UNESCO that the park be declared a World Heritage Site.
On September 24, the team submitted the dossier to India’s ambassador and permanent delegate at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Bhitarkanika, which is also a Ramsar wetland site, figured on the tentative list of future heritage sites of UNESCO in 2009 and made its way to the final list in 2014. Earlier, in 1984, UNESCO had declared the Sun Temple at Konark as a World Heritage Site.
Bhitarkanika is a unique ecosystem, highly dynamic and at the same time fragile. The delta, the river mouth, the sea, mangrove forest, avian fauna, reptiles, amphibians and fauna and flora contribute to the park’s biological diversity.
History of Bhitarkanika
In 1974, the ministry of forest and environment, in collaboration with the UNDP, had started a crocodile hatchery and rearing project at Dangmal in the park. Under the project, the crocodile population in the park increased from 96 in 1974 to 1,665 this January. Six years ago, the Guinness World Records recorded a 23-foot saltwater crocodile in Bhitarkanika as the largest in the world.
Courtesy: Times of India