A rare albino saltwater crocodile has recently been sighted in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, according to a forest officer. The albino crocodile, named ‘Sweta’ by park officials, was spotted in the hatchery and rearing complex of crocodiles at Dangmal.
The park is now home to three captive albino crocodiles, with Sweta being a three-year-old female crocodile born in the hatchery from eggs collected from the wild.
While albino estuarine crocodiles are rare, they have been spotted in the wild in Bhitarkanika. During a census last year, researchers counted 1,768 crocodiles, including 15 albino reptiles, in the rivers, creeks, and other water bodies of the park.
Forty-year-old Gori was the first albino crocodile spotted in Bhitarkanika, hatched and bred by the Forest Department in 1975 as part of a crocodile conservation program. Living in captivity since birth, Gori has shunned mating habits and rejected companionship on several occasions in the past.
Another albino crocodile, Malli, was born in the hatchery in 2005.
The discovery of Sweta is significant as it takes some years for the whitish complexion of an albino crocodile to develop, according to researcher Sudhakar Kar. Forest officials are advising their staff to take proper care of the rare albino crocodile and continue their conservation efforts for the species.