GOA'S WILDLIFE

In the hinterlands and deep villages of Goa, many times wild animals such as snakes, reptiles like crocodiles and wild cats like tigers are loved or hated by humans.

Crocodile

Mugger crocodiles in Goa exist in two populations one in Opa River and another in the brackish waters of Cumbarjua Canal. The Crocodylus Palustris of the Cumbarjua breed is unique, as the muggers are freshwater crocodiles that have adapted to the saline mangrove eco-system- an achievement nowhere else found in India. Wandering crocodiles have been spotted at Chorao, Thivim, Siolim and Carambolim. The Syngenta freshwater lakes at Corlim have a small number of 13 crocodiles thriving.

 
 

Crocodile worship is practiced in some parts of Goa. Every year on the day of the new moon in January a ceremony called the 'Mannge Thapnee' is performed. People construct a crocodile from silt, shells are placed as eyes and scales and sticks for teeth. crocodileThe crocodile is then adorned with flowers and vermillion. A live chick is offered as a sacrifice and placed in a depression. The crocodile is believed to be a guardian deity or protector. (Source: Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter, Vol.14, No.1, January - March, 1995.)

Snakes

Nag Panchami is the day marked for the veneration of snakes. In Hindu mythology, the cobra has a special significance and the earth, it is believed, rests on the head of 'Shesha' - the thousand-hooded cobra. It is a festival in the honor of the Snake God, Shesha Nag. On this day of Nag Panchami Hindu Goans worship the snake by offering milk and doing Puja. According to the Hincobradu calendar, Nag Panchami is celebrated in the month of Shravan (July-August). During the rains when the snakes appear out of the pit they are worshipped as they guard crops from getting spoiled by rats and other rodents.

Turtles

Olive Ridley"s Turtles (Lepidochelys Olivacea) are regularly spotted along the coastline of Goa. There has been decline in the population of Olive Ridley due to human activities. This prompted the Indian Government to launch the National Sea Turtle Conservation Project in 1981.The Forest department of Goa started the Turtle Conservation Programme from the year 1996. Presently in Goa only Olive Ridley turtles are nesting in significant numbers on Goa's beaches. Olive Ridley Turtle is one of the smallest of sea turtles with adult reaching to 2-2.5 feet in length and weighing 40-55.5 kg. The diet of Olive Ridley includes crabs, shrimps, rock lobsters, jelly fish and tunicates. The female produce up to 100 eggs during nesting. The incubation of eggs takes about 40-50 days and the newly hatched larvae return back to sea after hatching. Morjim in North Goa, Galgibag and Agonda in South Goa are the three main nesting sites of the OlivOlive Ridley's Turtlese Ridley"s in Goa.

Other nesting sites where sporadic nesting takes place are at Kerim, Harmal and Ashvem in Pernem Taluka; Anjuna and Calangute-Candolim in Bardez Taluka; Velsao, Senarbatim, Colva, Benaulim and Betul in Salcete Taluka; and Patnem, Palolem and Kindlem beaches in Canacona Taluka. The success of the conservation effort has boosted eco-tourism in these areas.

Tigers

Evidence of at least three tigers' presence has been found in Goa's wildlife sanctuaries during the ongoing wildlife census in the state by forest department officials. The development is a shot in the arm for green activists who have been lobbying for Goa's forest areas being declared as tiger reserves.

 
 
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