Home to the largest population of the Giant Salt-Water Crocodile in India, the Bhitarkanika National Park is a hotspot of bio-diversity sprawled over a 145 square kilometer area within the 672 square kilometer Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. A notified National Park since 1998, the topography of the Bhitarkanika National Park includes mangrove forests, rivers, creeks, estuaries, backwaters, accreted lands and mud flats.
A coastal location of Orissa State which is rich and maintaining a lush green vibrant eco-system within the estuarine region of Brahmani-Baitarani in the north-eastern corner of the Kendrapara District of the state. These mangrove forests and wetlands provide home to over 215 species of birds which include great winter-migrants from Central-Asia and Europe. A variety of wildlife thrives in this eco-system including the Salt Water Crocodile, White Crocodile, Indian Python, Cobras, Wild Pigs, Rhesus Monkeys, Chital, Black Ibis and Darters. Most beaches around this region are the resting places of the famed Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, whereas, the entire region of the Bhitarkanika Mangroves are home to 55 of the 58 known mangrove species of the subcontinent.
The flora of the mangroves are found to contain trees like Sundari, Thespia, Casuarinas, and grasses like the Indigo Bush and other salt tolerant, complex and dynamic eco-structure that occur in sub-tropical and tropical inter-tidal regions. This former hunting preserve of the Raj Kanika Royal Family has an entry point at Chandabali, which is 50 kilometers from Bhadrak and RajNagar and about 30 kilometers from Kendrapara. Considered as one of the most impressive Wildlife Sanctuaries of Asia, the Bhitarkanika National Park owes most of this to the blessed eco-structure of this region.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles: Also known as the Pacific Ridley, they are the smallest sized sea turtles with an adult carapace averaging a length of 60 to 70 centimeters. They are well-known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in vast numbers at times numbering many hundred thousands over the coastline of Orissa. Nestling selectively also occurs along the Coromandel Coast and Sri Lanka, however, are considered a rarity in most areas of the Indian Ocean. These nestling beaches are effectively characterized as relatively flat, mid-beach zone, and free of debris which these animals seem to prefer. The Olive Ridley is presently classified as ‘Vulnerable’ according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources (IUCN).