Uttarakhand is all set to welcome its first Crocodile Safari in Suri Forest area

Published on : Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Uttarakhand is all prepared to develop the first crocodile safari in Surai forest range in Kumaon, in Uttarakhand, as highlighted by the state forest officials only recently.

To quote Sandeep Kumar, the divisional forest officer (DFO), Terai-east forest division, “We are chalking out a plan for a crocodile safari in Khakra nullah of Surai range in Khatima area in US Nagar district. Our aim is not only to conserve crocodiles but also earn revenue from this for the department by attracting tourists and boosting ecotourism.”

Surai range falls is perfectly located in the Terai-East forest division in Kumaon and Khakra nullah passes through this range. In Surai forest, crocodiles are in good numbers, as a result of which a proposal for crocodile safari was prepared, said Kumar.

The place which was selected for the safari is 12 kms from Khatima town of US Nagar and 20 kms from Pilibhit tiger reserve, located in Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh. In 2018, Khakra had 170 crocodiles, as per the last count. According to the forest officials, now their numbers have increased.

To quote Kumar, “A 750-metre stretch of the nullah has been identified for safari and ample fencing and walls will be erected on both sides so that crocodiles don’t harm the tourists and tourists too don’t venture too close to the animal. A track will be constructed on both sides for tourists. Later electric vehicles will be provided if the safari gets good footfall.”

Babu Lal, sub divisional officer (SDO) of Khatima forest, said, “Surai range is spread on 22,000 hectares of land and has a very rich flora and fauna. We have sent a proposal for a crocodile safari in Khakra nullah on the instruction of higher authorities.”

To quote Praveen Kabir, a social activist of Khatima, “It is a nice idea to have crocodile safari in a remote area like Khatima. It would give Khatima a chance to shine on the tourism map of India.”

The areas where crocodiles can be found in Uttarakhand are – the Corbett landscape, Terai area, some areas of Haridwar forest division and Rajaji National Park landscape.

As per the recent wildlife census published in June by the state forest department this year, crocodile numbers have increased in the state from 123 in 2008 to 451 in 2020.

Out of 23 crocodilian species found in the world, three species can be found in India. Uttarakhand has two of the three crocodilian species – Mugger Crocodile and Gharial (in Corbett landscape). Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), is the most common freshwater species of crocodile found throughout India, except the extreme north.

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