Covering 672 square kilometres overlying the Brahmani-Baitarani delta, the mangrove forests and wetlands of the BHITARKANIKA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY constitute one of the richest ecosystems of its type in India. As well as more than two hundred species of birds, it’s a refuge for saltwater crocodiles, monitor lizards, rhesus monkeys and a host of other reptiles and mammals, and incorporates the Olive Ridley turtle nesting beaches at Gahirmatha, Rushikulya and Devi. The best time to visit is between November and March, when most of the migratory birds that flock to the sanctuary are in situ, although the nesting season for the herons usually ends around the middle of November. If you’re hoping to witness the arrival of Olive Ridley turtles, check first at the tourist office in Bhubaneswar to find out exactly when – or indeed if – they are expected. Other highlights include the crocodile conservation programme at Dangmar Island and the heronry at Bagagahana.
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