Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is in Kendrapada district of Indian state Odisha. Bhitarkanika means interior of superbly beautiful (Bhitar means interior and Kanika means superbly beautiful). It is situated on the estuary of Baitarani and Brahmani river. On the east the Bay of Bengal lies. The sanctum sanctorum of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary with pristine lush mangrove was declared as Bhitarkanika national park. The site has also been declared as a Ramsar site in 2002. The mangrove forest of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is the most diverse mangrove cover in the country.
Flagship animal: Estuarine Crocodiles
Notified Area: 672 km2
The sanctuary was designated in 1975.
Best time for visit the sanctuary is November to February.
The flora comprises both mangrove and broad-leaved deciduous forest elements. More than 310 species of plants have been recorded so far. A total of 32 true mangrove species as well as more than 70 mangrove associate species are found in the limit of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary.
This sanctuary is dominated by reptiles. Estuarine crocodile is the flagship animal. Three species of monitor lizards, more than 20 species of snakes are found in the park. King cobra, Burmese python, krait is commonly found.
Leopard cat, fishing cat, wild boar, spotted deer, sambar, otter are commonly found. Aquatic mammals such as Irrawaddy dolphin, Ganga dolphin, bottle nose dolphins are found in the water of Bhitarkanika.
A total of 263 bird species belonging to 63 families have been recorded. Asia’s largest multispecies heronry Bagagahan comes into active during monsoon. 10 species of herons nest together in the Bagagahan heronry.
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar
Nearest Railways Station: Bhadrak (45 km) and Cuttack (90 km)
Road: Entry point Gupti, Dangamal, Chandbali well connected by roads.
The sanctuary remains closed from May to July for being nesting period of saltwater crocodiles. In the peak winter the sanctuary remains closed for 10 days for crocodile census as well as water fowl winter census.
N.B. Entry permit to Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is required to be taken from the Mangrove Forest Division, Rajnagar.