Kendrapara (Odisha): A 58-year-old woman cattle grazer was killed by a crocodile in a fresh instance of man-animal conflict in areas close to Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, a forest official said.

An adult crocodile pounced on Chayamani Bag, a native of Petshala river-side Balrampur village, yesterday, he said. Forest officials have rushed to the village as people there were agitated over frequent crocodile attacks on humans. The severed left arm of the victim was retrieved from the site, the official said.

Bharati Mandal (45), a villager who was near the river and was witness to the fatal attack, informed the villagers, who in turn alerted the forest officials. A team of forest officers and villagers rushed to the spot and found only an amputated arm and a portion of the woman’s sari.

Bharati said, “While Chayamani was grazing cattle near the river, a big crocodile suddenly sprang out of the knee-length water and dragged her into the river.” The incident occurred outside the national park limits. The deceased’s family would be covered under ex-gratia compensation payment scheme after recovery of the body, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

There are official reports of saltwater crocodiles from Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary straying into Brahmani, Baitarani, Petashala and Kharasrota rivers. Lethal assault by the reptiles and consequent retaliatory attack by men, have become a regular feature in this part of the state.

Several people and hordes of domestic animals lose their lives each year, as a result of the attacks. The conflict and consequent loss of human lives, are most frequently recorded during the monsoon and winter months, the nesting season of the estuarine crocodiles.

Most often, the mishaps occur when the victims intrude into the animal’s habitat for illegal fishing, poaching, fuel wood and honey collection.

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