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Project Elephant
Project Tiger
Crocodile Conservation
Sea Turtle Conservation
Blackbuck Conservation
Similipal Biosphere Reserve
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Wildlife research became a recognized mandate of the Odisha Forest Department from the year 1975 with the launching of Crocodile Conservation Project. The conservation projects on crocodiles, sea turtles, tiger, elephant and blackbuck, along with the captive-breeding programme at Nandankanan, and eco-development need and approaches are some of the few areas where data have got generated and used in planning and execution of wildlife conservation programmes.

In-house research on particular species and their habitat have led to Ph.D. theses and substantial other related data on the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) and elephant (Elephas maximus) for their conservation and management. Postgraduate students of Utkal University, Sambalpur University and Berhampur University have also produced PhD and MPhil dissertations on wildlife and nature conservation themes in collaboration with the wildlife organization. Research outputs have largely been from Similipal, Bhitarkanika, Gahirmatha, Satkoshia Gorge, Chandaka, and Nalaban (Chilika), in that order.

The research base of the Odisha State Wildlife Organisation has contributed to shape up wildlife education at the Graduation and Post-graduation levels in Utkal University, North Odisha University, Sambalpur University, Berhampur University and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology. Other institutions which have collaborated with the organization include the Bhagalpur University- Bihar, Anthropology Department of Delhi University, Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Bombay Natural History Society, Wildlife Institute of India, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation,  Regional Research Laboratory, Indian Institute of Science, and IUCN/SSC’s Specialist Groups like those for Crocodiles, Marine Turtles and Conservation Breeding etc.  At various times, the researchers of the state have shared their experience and rendered services and training in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and to international organizations like the FAO, UNDP, WWF, SIDA (Swedish) and DIFD.

Odisha state has naturally-occurring populations of all the three species of Indian Crocodilians, the Gharial, the mugger and the estuarine crocodile. Based on the results of a preliminary status survey conducted through the FAO of the UN, the crocodilian management project was started in Odisha. Wetland surveys conducted during this work have resulted with information on freshwater turtles, river dolphins and wetland birds of Odisha. 


During the course of the estuarine crocodile survey in Bhitarkanika the rookery of the marine turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea in Gahirmatha was noticed. This followed systematic coast surveys and the implementation of a marine turtle conservation scheme along theBased on sustained research ‘the rear and release’ technique in crocodile conservation has achieved survival efficiency in captivity. Studies have been carried out to determine the appropriate method of egg collection, egg incubation, hatching, and husbandry of the young crocodiles and various aspects of behavioural biology of the three species of crocodiles and their habitat features. Field techniques have been developed concerning census of crocodiles and interpretation of tracks and signs. The baseline data on Indian crocodilians and their management has been possible because of over 300 publications produced from these conservation projects.
famous Gahirmatha coast. Subsequent surveys have led to the discovery of two more rookeries viz., the rookery at Devi river estuary and the rookery at Rushikulya river estuary along with several minor nesting areas along the coastline of Odisha. Studies have been carried out on the nesting ecology, site fidelity, egg-hatchery maintenance and ecological relationship of sea turtles with coastal estuarine mangrove ecosystem. Internesting movements have been assessed through tag-recovery plan, subsequent to which a satellite telemetry study was commissioned during April 17-19, 2001 in collaboration with Wildlife Institute of India and Smithsonian Institution, USA. It has been possible to track ridley turtles which nest on the coast of Odisha through their migration route to foraging areas, about 2000km away.  In collaboration with Utkal University the embryonic development, karyotype patterns, food, feeding habits and captive growth have also been studied.

During 1973-81 the founder Field Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve, (Padmashree Saroj Raj Choudhury) studied a free-living pet tigress, Khairi on aspects of reproductive biology, senses and inter-specific interactions. During the same period Prof. R. L. Brahamachary studied the marking fluids of Khairi for chemical description of the pheromones. The study was later pursued on tigers at Nandankanan.

During the period 1989-93 repeated surveys on tiger population have led to draw inferences on the biology and population dynamics of tiger and leopard in the wild in Similipal. During this period the technique of using pugmark tracking to determine the minimum size, composition and trend of tiger population in a given area was refined and standardized. Inspired from observations in Similipal, detailed studies have also been conducted on aberrant colourations in tigers.(meltigeraug04)

Elephant population estimation technique has been devised and practiced all over the state.  Studies carried out on elephant sighting trends have helped in streamlining tourism-management in Similipal with respect to season and route. Studies on elephant population trends and their habitats have formed bases for designing a network of Elephant Reserves and launching of Project Elephant. In collaboration with the Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre--Bangalore and Wildlife Preservation Trust International, Elephant-Human interface has been studied and analysed for different districts in Odisha. Chandaka Sanctuary housing a meta population of 60+ elephants has offered a base to several students to study elephant related issues and biodiversity of Chandaka within a few minutes drive from Bhubaneswar city.

Herbivore populations have been estimated in Similipal from sample transact census and by using biomass of species constituting prey for large carnivores. Population estimates of tiger and leopard, considered to be well founded and precise, are used as indicators of the status of herbivore population in all areas. The distribution of Chousingha or Four-horned antelope (Tetraceros quadricornis), a Schedule-I animal was surveyed during 1990 in the entire State, and their distribution map was plotted for Similipal. Studies have also been pursued on population, habitat preference, feeding and survival of the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) in Balipadar-Bhetnoi of Ganjam District. The distribution pattern and food plants of the Giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) have been studied in Similipal. The arrival pattern of Fruit Bat (Pteropus giganteus) and their dependence on Eucalyptus trees have been studied at Ramatirtha. Survey of Cetaceans carried out in major rivers and estuaries have revealed their present restriction to Chilika Lake and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.

Areas where avian surveys have been of fairly good order are Chilika, Bhitarkanika, Similipal and Chandaka. These surveys have generated interest among young bird watchers. Over 450 species of birds have been identified for Odisha. Of these 264 have been recorded in Similipal, 230 species (95 species local and inter-continental migrants) in Chilika lake, 171 in Bhitarkanika and 90 species in Chandaka.  In January 2004, Hirakud reservoir, adjoining Debrigarh Sanctuary recorded 36,373 birds representing 27 species. This includes 16 migrants. Twentyfive species of ‘birds of prey’ have been enlisted from Similipal in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society, and the discovery of Red-breasted falconet have supported the link which Similipal may have with sub-Himalayan region. After reporting about the range extension for Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca malacca), a study on the nesting biology of the species was completed by the research base at Ramatirtha near Jashipur. Distribution and status of Vultures have been carried out by the Bombay Natural History Society in Mayurbhanj and adjoining districts of Odisha and a detailed status survey in the entire state is underway. Wetland birds and their ecology have been studied in detail in the Chilika Lagoon. The BNHS have carried out bird-ringing in Chilika and in recent years have collaborated with the Chilika Development Authority. In Mayurbhanj district the wetland birds have been listed out and being linked to ecotourism destinations surrounding Similipal Biosphere Reserve.

A survey along the Odisha coast has identified the breeding grounds of the Horseshoe crabs, Tachypleus gigas and the availability locations for Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda. It has also highlighted the conservation needs in view of the groups’ significance in biomedical research. The Zoological Survey of India has launched a long-duration study on the invertebrate fauna of Similipal. Faunal and floral checklists are continuously updated

A fairly complete account has emerged on the availability, biometrics, growth pattern, hatching and the hatchlings of Chameleon zeylanicus studied at Satkoshia Gorge and Nandankanan. The nesting biology of Water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) in Bhitarkanika and freshwater turtles in the Mahanadi have kept live issues concerning their conservation.

In order to streamline the management of ecotourism potentialities in sanctuaries, a four-year long case study was conducted on the tourism profile.

Floristic surveys have mainly been carried out in Similipal, Chilika and Bhitarkanika. A team from the Regional Research Laboratory, Bhubaneswar has recorded 1076 species of plants for the Similipal hills. Additions to these have been made by the Marathwada University and Bhagalpur University. From the Bhitarkanika estuaries 62 species of mangrove plants and their associated flora have been listed.

The orchid flora of Odisha includes 124 species. These contain 20 species of Himalayan elements, 2 species of south Indian and 10 species common to the north and south. In the Malyagiri hills nearing Dhenkanal, Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts in northern Odisha, 21 species of orchids in 15 genera have been recorded.

Socio-Economic Surveys to determine the status and need of the people living in and around Pas have been conducted to launch eco-development projects. These works have mainly been carried out in Similipal, Bhitarkanika, Chilika and Chandaka. One MPhil study from Berhampur University examines the economics of wildlife conservation taking Similipal as a case history.

Curriculums for ‘Nature camps’, wildlife-training programmes and concepts for visitor-education centres come under the purview of interpretation and extension activities linked to the research base. One MPhil study guided and submitted to Utkal University relates to the development of a model interpretation plan for Similipal.

List of Publications compiled in

Subject

English

Oriya

Hindi

Total

Herpetofauna General

26

2

0

28

Amphibia

81

1

0

82

Lizards

14

2

0

16

Snakes

27

3

0

30

Crocodiles (General)

37

4

0

41

Gharial

60

1

0

61

Mugger

24

1

0

25

Saltwater crocodile

48

6

0

54

Caiman crocodiles

1

0

0

1

Freshwater turtles

8

1

0

9

Marine Turtles

60

2

0

62

Birds

128

4

0

132

Mammals

231

20

0

251

Mangroves

53

4

0

57

Wildlife (General)

155

29

2

186

Books

39

12

0

51

M.Sc./M.Phil these

9

0

0

7

Ph.D. these

49

0

0

49

Technical Reports

30

0

0

30

Total

1080

92

2

1172

                      

     
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