The Odisha government has decided to set up a state-of-the-art interpretation centre at Bhitarkanika National Park to showcase its flora, fauna and rich biodiversity, a senior official said. At present, the national park has an interpretation centre at Dangmal but it has proved to be inadequate in preserving the vast reserve of the finest biodiversity hotspots of the state, the official said.
Mangrove and wildlife researchers had also suggested for better showcasing of the natural heritage here. “So there is a need for setting up a specialized and world-class interpretation centre at Bhitarkanika,” he said. The project, which has been approved under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP), will be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 3 crore, the official said.
The construction of the centre will get underway in winter, ICZMP project director, Sushant Nanda, said. The conservation measures for protecting crocodiles in their natural habitat and preserving the rich mangrove diversity in Bhitarkanika wetland sites will be exhibited at the proposed centre.
The ICZMP-funded centre that is coming up will cater to the needs of the researchers for an in-depth study of Bhitarkanikas rich reserve of flora and fauna, he said. It will also be of interest to visitors who throng the internationally-acclaimed Ramsar wetland site. “We plan to develop the centre both as a tourist attraction and a place for students to learn about the environment,” Nanda said.
It could be a major attraction for both domestic and international tourists, he said. The national park is said to house 70 per cent of the country’s estuarine crocodile or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975. The crocodile population at Bhitarakanika is estimated to be 1698 as per the latest census. The park is also famous for its mangroves, turtles and migratory birds.