Odisha’s incredible wildlife wealth needs to be preserved for the future so that our children shall be true inheritors of this state’s natural heritage. We should keep a careful and close watch on the state of our wildlife sanctuaries to ensure that its wildlife is safe and well protected
Written by Siba Prasad Parida, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology
Our State Odisha is a paradise for wildlife. The Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive every year to breed on the Odisha coast have put the state on the international wildlife map. Turtle lovers throughout the world eagerly await this wonderful natural event when thousands of turtles congregate in the Odisha coast from October onwards. The best-known site is Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. Devi river mouth and Rushikulya river mouth are the two other spots where mass nesting takes place. The Olive Ridley sea turtles mass nesting is one of nature’s rare events which is Odisha’s unique natural heritage and we all are proud that nature has bestowed this privilege on us. However, let us not forget that the state is also home to many other species of wildlife thanks to the wide diversity of natural habitats which the state possesses. To protect this invaluable wildlife wealth, the state government has declared several Protected Areas (Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks).
The world famous Bhitarkanika mangroves forests are home to some of the world’s largest crocodiles. The salt water crocodiles are found here in large numbers. Beware of the salties! During nesting they can be quite nasty. The cold season is the best time to sight them. Take a country boat and enter the narrow creeks of Bhitarkanika and find these lovable giants lounging on the mud banks basking in the winter sun.
Chilika lagoon is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon with a water spread of approximately 900 sq. kms. Bird watching is an unforgettable experience which no one should miss. Just hire a boat and sail to Nalabana, Mangalajodi the bird paradise which will transport you to another world. The only sound reflected over the tranquil waters of the lagoon is the joyful twitter of waterfowl as they bask in the pale morning sun. Chilika hosts nearly a million migratory waterfowl every year. They belong to nearly 225 species. However, the lake is also world famous for another rare creature, the Irrawady dolphins. Irrawady dolphins are small dolphins which are found in river mouth and near shore sea waters. These dolphins stay in small family groups and love to gambol in the lake waters. They are quite friendly and sometimes come close to the boats. It is a wonderful sight to see the watchful mother closely guarding her calf and teaching her how to catch the lake fish.
As travel inland in the forested hills and valleys, one must encounter a wide variety of forest animals like elephants, tigers, leopards, sambhar, deer,etc.
The river Mahanadi courses through the deep Satkosia Gorge. Never miss a boat ride in the Mahanadi. It is a mind-boggling experience floating down this 22 kms stretch of Mahandi from Binka to Kamaladiha. The steep hill slopes dip into the river on both sides and you are shadowed by the high hills as you sail down the tranquil waters of Mahandi. Both species of crocodiles i.e., the gharial and the mugger are sighted here. One can also sight river turtles basking on the rocks on the banks of the river.
Simlipal is a water rich area and will be amazed by the huge number of streams which flow perennially in this area. There are wonderful waterfalls at Joranda and Barheipani. Simlipal is a treasure house of orchids and more than 90 varieties have been listed here. Elephants are in abundance in this park. Herds of chital and sambhar grazing in the meadows when drive through the Park. The place is also a paradise for bird watchers since you find many forest species like crested tree swift, red spur fowl, black shouldered kite, crested serpent eagle, brown fish owl, hill myna. In fact, the place is famous for hill myna and once upon a time, the forest department used to run a thriving business, catching the chicks from the tall sal trees and rearing them at Jashipur. They used to be exported in large numbers to foreign countries where a huge demand existed since the hill myna is a talking bird and can closely mimic human voice.
Odisha’s incredible wildlife wealth needs to be preserved for the future so that our children shall be true inheritors of this state’s natural heritage. We should keep a careful and close watch on the state of our wildlife sanctuaries to ensure that its wildlife is safe and well protected.
Photo Credit: https://alternativetoursindia.com/