Bari (Jajpur), Aug 16: The presence of a saltwater crocodile in the upper and lower catchments of Brahmani and Birupa rivers has become a matter of concern for locals, especially fishermen.
The Birupa, a branch of the Mahanadi River, merges with the Brahmani River at Kaipada village in the Bari block of the Jajpur district.
Today, a 35-year-old woman, Jyotsna Rani, fell prey to a crocodile in Palatpur village of Bari block while she was taking a bath near river Birupa. She is the fourth victim during the last two months.
In a similar manner, a 55-year-old man was dragged by the reptile into the Brahmani River at Kulasahi in Pattamundai block of Kendrapara district on July 27.
The victim, identified as Amulya Das of Kulasahi village, had gone to the river bed to attend to nature’s call at around 8:30 pm.
On June 29, a 56-year-old man, Gangadhara Tarai, of Ghagaradiha village of Pattamundai block in Kendrapara district was dragged by the reptile when he was taking a bath in a water body near his village.
Besides, a 10-year-old boy, Ashutosh Acharya, was dragged and killed by a crocodile while he had gone to the bank of the Brahmani River to attend nature’s call with his mother on June 14.
The Class V student fell prey to the crocodile when his mother went to bathe in the river.
The crocodile has created panic among around 30,000 villagers living on the banks of the Brahmani and Birupa Rivers in the Bari block of Jajpur district and Pattamundai block of Kendrapara district, especially fishermen.
"I am selling dry fish as my family members and community friends have requested me not to venture into the river to catch fish, which is my profession. My family's livelihood depends on fishing. But, after the death of two persons in my nearby villages, I am not venturing into the river and selling dry fish that gives only 25 percent of my daily income," said Sana Malika of Taradipal village in Pattamundai block.
The crocodile menace in nullahs and canals is manageable as we can trace out the reptile’s presence. But it is not possible in the river. Last year we caught a huge crocodile around 8 feet long in our fishing net and killed it secretly far away from the village to avoid forest department personnel. It damaged our net worth of Rs 12,000. The department is more concerned about the breeding of crocodiles than human lives, said another fisherman on condition of anonymity.
The story is very similar for hundreds of families from fishing communities living on the banks of the Brahmani and Birupa rivers.
A crocodile was rescued from the confluence point of the Brahmani and Birupa rivers two years back while another one got vanished soon after. This one is the same crocodile that had returned missing its partner, said 70-year-old fisherman Babaji Jena.
The crocodile has further ventured into the river after killing a calf and a pig two years ago. This time it is targeting humans after tasting human blood for the first time added Jena.
Scores of cattle swim the river every day for grazing; however, the crocodile is not attacking the cattle. It is very sure that the reptile is targeting only humans, he said.