Wetlands in the twin districts of Anand and Kheda have emerged as a safe haven for crocodiles. The 10th Charotar Crocodile Count, a citizen science initiative, has reported the presence of nearly 248 crocs in the two districts.
This is the highest ever numbers recorded by the Charotar Count, first carried out in December 2013 by the Voluntary Nature Conservancy group, comprising largely of local wildlife enthusiasts. The first census noted only 99 of the reptiles and was spread over an area of 1,400 square km. In the 10 years since, the population has spread over to 2,200 sq km and the count more than doubled.
Sharing the encouraging trend, Anirudh Vasava, executive director, VNC, stated: “Charotar’s landscape is provides ideal conditions for crocodiles. The ponds are well-connected through the various canals , which provide an ideal and unique opportunity to these reptiles to travel to other areas. Initially when we started the count in 2013, villages like Petli had only eight crocs while Dabhou had only three. Now the count has increased to 20 and 23 respectively.”
In the latest count which covered 25 wetlands in Anand and Kheda, the highest number of crocodiles were spotted in Heranj village, followed by 37 in Deva, 23 in Dabhou and 20 in Petli village.
Reasoning that the count could be higher, Vasava shared that in villages like Deva and Malataj, fishermen have not been given the lease since two years. “As a result, the lakes and ponds are covered with water hyacinth making access difficult for volunteers,” he added.
It may be mention worthy here that a total of 86 participants from 11 states volunteered for the crocodile count, held earlier this year in January.