BHUBANESHWAR: A seven year old girl bravely fought with an estuarine crocodile in a village pond to save her friend. Unmindful of the dangers the tiny Mamata jumped in to save her friend in village Bankula under Dangamala Gram Panchayat within the Bhitarkanika National Park of Odisha.

Kendrapara District Collector rushed to congratulate the girl as soon as word spread of this amazing feat. Her name will be recommended for the state and national bravery award.

Mamata (7) and Basanti (7) were washing utensils in the village pond when the crocodile suddenly exploded out of the knee-deep water, clamping its vice-like jaws on Basanti and trying to drag her into the water. Mamata fought hard to save her friend. “I attacked the crocodile with our utensils, and it then lost its grip and let go of Basanti,” the little girl recalls.

“The crocodile pounced upon Basanti as a result she sustained injuries on her hands . As luck would have it, the life of Basanti was saved as the reptile gave up after Mamata assaulted it with the utensils and she then managed to drag her friend to safety,” Nrusingh Behera a villager of Bankuala said.

Meanwhile forest officials of the Bhitarkanika national park managed to catch the five foot long crocodile that had strayed into the village pond only recently from the nearby river Patasala within the park. Later the crocodile was released in the river.

Later Mamata realised the enormity of what she had managed, as that time she instinctively fought to save her friend. "When I finally saw it after its capture I couldn't believe my eyes. It was big enough to swallow me all at once", she said. Both girls are Class 2 students in the village school.

“We will soon felicitate Mamata for her courageous work”, Kumudini Behera the headmistress of Jayadurga primary school at Bankuala said .

Crocodiles often enter the ponds and other water bodies of the villages around the park.

“We have repeatedly warned the riverside villagers not to go into the rivers, ponds , creeks and other water bodies of Bhitarkanika and its nearby areas as the area has at least 1600erocious estuarine crocodile,” the forest officers said.