Bhubaneswar, Jan 3 (PTI) The annual bird census in different forest divisions in Odisha started on Thursday, officials said. Also Read - Germany's New Coronavirus Tracing App Raises Privacy Concerns, Citizens Call it 'Creepy'

The bird counting started with 26 teams including five experts, three ACFs and 70 forest officials engaged in the exercise in Brahmagiri, Nandankanan, Similipal and other forest divisions, they said. Also Read - Odisha Man Kills His Aunt on Suspicion of 'Practicing Witchcraft', Enters Police Station With Her Severed Head

Each team has been provided with binoculars, two-way radio (walkie-talkie), GPS scale and other equipments. Five boats have been engaged for the movement of teams in Brahmagiri forest division. Also Read - Conservationists Satellite Detect 'Exciting Data' After Fitting GPS Collars to Endangered Red Pandas Near Mt Kangchenjunga

Three units consisted of 10 officials each, have been formed for the Brahmagiri wildlife range, the official said adding that there could be a rise in the number of avian species this time in comparison to last year.

Similar exercise has also begun in forest divisions of Mayurbhanj district, including Simlipal, Baripada, Rairangpur and Karanjia.

Officials said that the bird counting will be conducted in Chilika Lake which included Nalabana Bird Sanctuary on January 4. The counting of birds is also scheduled to be held at Bhitarkanika and Hirakud on January 6.

Keeping in view the annual bird counting exercise, the authorities of the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district have closed the sanctuary for visitors from January 6 to 14.

Apart from migratory birds, the census drive of estuarine crocodile will also be conducted at Bhitarkanika.

The head count of crocodiles will also be done at Mahanadi river system, Bhitarakanika river system, ghodahad river system and Similipal river system.

Similarly, the Dolphins census will be held in Chilika lake on January 19, officials said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.