Mangrove in Odisha; an ecosystem in diversity.
A mangrove is a salt-tolerant tree, shrub, palm, or such type of vegetation that normally grows in the intertidal zone of the rivers, seas, and oceans.
Mangrove in Odisha.
A mangrove is a salt-tolerant tree, shrub, palm, or such type of vegetation that normally grows and dominate on the coast and the river banks up to tidal water reach, during high tide in the tropical and sub-tropical region. The distribution pattern is based on sea surface temperature, freshwater inflow, air temperature, etc.
Duke(1992) defines a mangrove as ” a tree, shrub, palm or ground fern generally exceeding 0.5m in height and normally grows above mean sea level in the intertidal zone of tropical coast or estuarine environments.”He has prepared a list of 69 mangrove species belonging to 20 genera and 16 families. Whereas 35 mangrove species belonging to 29 genera and 14 families are found in mangroves in Odisha.
Location of mangrove in Odisha:
Mangrove normally grows in the intertidal zone of the coasts. However, its distribution pattern depends on freshwater inflow, silt dynamics, the nature of the earth, and tidal water inflow. In India, the Arabian coast has much less mangrove diversity than the coast of the Bay of Bengal as most of the important rivers flow to the Bay of Bengal.
Mahanadi delta in Odisha is a species-rich mangrove ecosystem in India. Mostly three districts including Bhadrak, Kenrdapada, and Jagatsinghpur has a good growth of mangrove in Odisha. In Bhadrak dense mangrove coverage of 11 sq km and open forest of 8sq km come under Kanika Island, Jaidurgapatana, Kishoreprasad, Nilambarnagar, Ganganagar, Gouraprasad, Hrudayaprasad, Krushnanagar, Gopabandhunagar, Karanjamal, Narenrdraour, Dhankuta, Baincha, Kuamara, Karanpalli, and Bijay Patna( Chandabali Tahasil), Nandapatana, Balimunda, Habelisahi, Bideipur ( Basudevpur Tahasil). Except for Jaidurgapatana, all the above villages are on the coast of the Bay of Bengal with mudflats. Jagatsinghpur owns a 4sq km dense mangrove with a 01 sq km open forest.
Bhitarakanika the real crown of mangrove of Odisha:
Mangroves of the Brahmani-Baitarani delta in Kendrapada district located between 86′-45” to 87’17’ East longitude and 20′-17” to 20′-47”North latitude, have been declared as Bhitarakanika Wild Life Sanctuary in April 1975 covering an area of 672sq km. Further, the core area of the above sanctuary was declared as National Park in September 1998, covering an area of 145sq km.
The Bhitarkanica Sanctuary area has been designated as RAMSAR SITE (i.e, Wetland of International Importance) during the 8th meeting of the Contracting Parties( where 170 nations are members) held at Valencia, Spain from 18-26th November 2002. Now Bhitarakanika mangroves are one of the 6 Ramsar sites of Odisha.
Flora and fauna:
Bhitarkanika is the second largest mangrove in India next to Sundarbans, West Bengal, and the largest mangrove ecosystem in Odisha. The National Park is ecological and biological paramount due to its crisscrossing creeks, rivers, estuaries, and mudflats. Huge varieties of the flora of 33 mangrove species and more than 40 mangrove associates are found in Bhitarakanica, Odisha.
Flora is a lush green wonder in an area of 672sq km in Bhitarakanica Wildlife Sanctuary. In fauna, the main subject attraction is the saltwater crocodile and its breeding grounds in the national park, and creeks. Indian python, king cobra, cobra, crate, viper, monitor lizard, black ibis, wild boar, monkey, jackal, spotted deer, sambar deer, and darters, etc., are enriching the ecosystem. Another attraction is the olive ridley turtle breeding ground at Gahirmatha and near beaches.
Bagagahan bird sanctuary:
Bagagahan bird sanctuary is home to many local bird species. However, during monsoon season the area welcomes thousands of local guest birds. Monsoon bird census report 2021 reveals the bird population pegged at 1,08,639 including 62,983 chicks coming under 11 species, which delighted the forest people. Forest official sources say a large number of monsoon birds were found near the sites in the mangrove forest at matha dia, near Brahmani river, and Laxmiprasad dia in Durgaprasad near Bhitarkanica. Plenty of fish in rivers and creeks made the birds attract.
The winter season witnesses the visit of migratory birds from Siberia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Asia, and Central European countries. Last year’s winter waterfall birds status survey report 2021 says as many as 121 species of birds with a population of 1,36092 visited Bitarkanika, the mangrove of Odisha. Varieties of fish species including crabs, and horseshoe crabs make the ecosystem more unique.
Mangrove in Odisha; overall ecosystem:
Excluding the Bhitarkanica, Kalibhanja dia(Kendrapada), the Dhamurai river delta, the home to spotted deer. Jaidurgapatana, Kishore prasad, Nilambarnagar, and 16 villages of Bhadrak district are the rich regions of mangrove in Odisha. Kanika Island is home to crabs and many mangrove species. Kanika Island, a very small area, has a dense mangrove population with as many as 20 mangrove species, belonging to 17 genera and 13 families including 04 true mangrove species and 16 mangrove associates. Mangrove of Bichitrapur, Balesware is rich in species. Many varieties of fish, horseshoe crabs, crabs, and a few varieties of birds are found in the Dhamara and Bichitrapur region including a few varieties of fishing birds such as seagulls, kingfishers, and different species of cranes.
Mangroves in Odisha are a real treasure house of nature and a diversified ecosystem. Bhitarakanica Wildlife Sanctuary is the real crown of mangroves of Odisha with a lush green vibrant ecosystem. However, the mangrove region of Bhadrak is the next treasure of mangrove vegetation. The contribution of Jagatsinghpur in this regard is encouraging. The flora and fauna magnify the natural beauties of the land paradise and forms diverse ecosystems and promote tourism.