A rare albino salt-water crocodile has been recently sighted at Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, a forest officer said on Friday.
Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Divisional Forest Officer J D Pati said that the albino crocodile was sighted in the hatchery and rearing complex of crocodiles at Dangmal in the national park.
Forest personnel have named it ‘Sweta’. The national park is now home to three captive albino crocodiles. The three-year-old female crocodile was born in the hatchery from the eggs collected from the wild, he said.
“During my visit to the hatchery on Wednesday, I discovered this albino crocodile and advised the forest personnel to take proper care of this whitish-coloured crocodile,” researcher Sudhakar Kar said.
It takes some years for the whitish complexion of an albino crocodile to develop, he said.
Although albino estuarine crocodiles are rare, they have been spotted in the wild in Bhitarkanika.
“During the census last year, we counted 1,768 crocodiles, including 15 albino reptiles, in the rivers, creeks and other water bodies of Bhitarkanika,” Kar said.
Forty-year-old ‘Gori’, hatched and bred by the Forest Department in 1975 as a part of a crocodile conservation programme, was the first albino crocodile spotted in Bhitarkanika.
It had hogged the spotlight over the years for its typical behavioural instinct. Living in captivity since its birth in the national park, the animal continues to shun mating habits.
It had rejected companionship on several occasions in the past. In 2005, another albino crocodile ‘Malli’ was also born in the hatchery.