Maharashtra Government-run Mangrove Cell has launched a Crocodile Safari or crocodile spotting at Songaon in Ratnagiri district as a tourist attraction.
The project aims to generate employment and stem migration of the younger generation while providing a fillip to tourism and marine biodiversity conservation in the region.
Under this community-based conservation project, the Maharashtra Forest Department trained villagers daily for six months. Now 30 of them will take tourists on crocodile spotting, boat rides, bird watching, mangrove trails and also facilitate their stay in the Songaon village.
The local residents have been trained by bird, mangrove and biodiversity experts.
Talking about this venture, Vandan Jhaveri, Assistant Director of Eco-tourism Mangrove Cell said: “Vashishti River backwaters are unique as the mangroves were found to require a mix of salt and fresh water. It is rich in beautiful spots including a picturesque coastline and small islands, among others.”
Sharing more details, Jhaveri said the safari will be conducted between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. It will depend on low tide as that is the period during which the crocodiles are most visible. “It has a potential of earning Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per day on a peak tourism day for all the activities like a homestay and boat rides..”
Marsh crocodile or the Mugger crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Burma, Pakistan, and some parts of Iran. The reptile is included in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Act, which ensures maximum legal protection for wild animals and is classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened, or special concern.
Though there is no official census of these muggers in Vashishti river, local confirmed that 20 of them can be spotted in one boat ride.