Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the estuarial region of Brahmani-Baitarani towards the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara District
of Orissa. It is placed at a distance of 190 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar
and 160 kilometers from Orissa and is one of the renowned sanctuaries of Orissa
. The sanctuary occupies an area of 650 square kilometers. It is one of the few sanctuaries in India which is the abode to crocodiles and turtles. The area was declared a sanctuary in the year 1975. After being recognised as wildlife sanctuary the region was converted into a national park in 1998.
The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is a significant eco-system of the state. It contains 63 of the 75 mangrove varieties. The sanctuary has several giant salt water crocodiles who bask on the mud flats waiting for its next meal. The Dangmar Island is a wonderful breeding ground and conservation ground for crocodiles.
Besides the reptiles which include the crocodiles and turtles the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary also have several mammals, birds, amphibians and fish. Some of the mammals which are found in the region are Hyena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Smooth Coated Otter, Civet, Indian Porcupine, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer and Sambar. The endangered Lesser Adjutant Stork is also found in the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of the less dangerous species that are found in the region are pythons, water monitors and timid deer. The birds that are commonly found in the region are brilliantly coloured kingfishers, herons, raucous open-billed storks, Open billed Storks, Sea Eagles, Kites, Sand Pipers, Darters, Whistling Teals and Sea Gulls.
The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary protects the Gahirmatha
nesting beach of the endangered olive ridley turtles. The wildlife sanctuary is crisscrossed by a number of canals, creeks and rivulets. During times of high tide the forest gets submerged under this water bodies similarly an enchanting boat ride in these water bodies is the only way to explore the mangrove forests.
The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible by air, water and land. By air the area can be easily accessed from Bhubaneshwar
. By water it can be reached through Chandabali, Ragnagar and Gupti and by rail it is accessed from Bhadrak District
, Balsore District
The best season to visit the sanctuary is from October to April and the tourists can board in the many hotels and lodges that are found around Bhitarkanika.