In a primary, crocodiles in Charotar to be counted throughout summer season

Vadodara/ Anand: For the first time, wildlife enthusiasts and students will get the unique opportunity to count the number of crocodiles during summer season.
The Voluntary Nature Conservancy (formerly known as Vidyanagar Nature Club) which has so far carried out all its Charotar crocodile counts during the months of winter, especially January, has decided to conduct a summer crocodile count involving citizens.

VNC has so far conducted five Charotar crocodile counts through which the number of reptiles who have made the wetlands of lush green Anand and Kheda districts – the twins which are popularly known as Charotar belt of Gujarat – are revealed.

“The summer counts are different from the winter basking counts as crocodiles are counted in the night and not during the day,” said Dhaval Patel, managing trustee of VNC, adding that the summer count will be organised between May 11 and May 13.

“A lot of things change when we conduct summer count as water in the wetlands is less, nesting and mating season is active during this period and because of local migration, you come across congregation at some places whereas population is less at some other spots,” he said.

According to VNC, globally such citizen science approach is used for crocodile population survey only at two places including the annual exercise done by it in Charotar belt of Central Gujarat and at Belize in Central America.

“So far, we were carrying out summer counts on our own. But looking at the response, we are getting in the winter counts, we have decided to involve citizens during the summer count,” he said.

Against the 30 applications that it had invited for the summer count, VNC has received 90 entries from students and wildlife enthusiasts from across the country including those from Delhi, Mumbai and even Jabalpur.

A majority of the applications that it has received are from zoology students followed by students of veterinary science. “We have also received applications from students of environmental science, engineering discipline and those pursuing their BCA studies,” he said.

VNC has been roping in citizens from across the country to spread awareness about the co-existence of wildlife and humans – a unique feature of Charotar – which is otherwise missing in other parts of the globe.

The fifth Charotar crocodile count which was carried out on January 6 and January 7 this year had revealed presence of at least 131 muggers in the rural heartland of Gujarat. It had also revealed that the reptiles were spread over an area of 1,300 sq km of the twin districts.

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