Gharial conservation in India
- The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), also known as the gavial, and fish-eating crocodile is a crocodilian in the family Gavialidae, native to sandy freshwater river banks in the plains of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.
- The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a critically endangered crocodilian existing only in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- India’s Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary contains a breeding population vital to the survival of the species.
- However this population is threatened by a combination of natural and anthropogenic causes.
- The gharial is one of the longest of all living crocodilians.
- The gharial once thrived in all the major river systems of the northern Indian subcontinent, from the Indus River in Pakistan and the Ganges to the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.
- Chambal River in National Chambal Sanctuary is the natural habitat of gharial.
- Due to extensive conservation efforts by wildlife departments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the relatively undisturbed riverine ecosystem of the Chambal which passes through these three states, gharial numbers have reached over 1,680 in the Chambal Sanctuary area.
- In 1978, the Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre was established to protect the critically endangered gharials of the north Indian rivers.
- The eggs are hatched in the artificial hatcheries and the three year old juveniles are tagged and gharials are released after they are three years old, when they are less vulnerable to predation.
- Gharials have also been sent to various zoos and nature parks across the world. Odisha, Kanpur, Delhi, West Bengal, Chennai, Bhutan, Tokyo, New York, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are some of the places where healthy gharials from the Kukrail Centre can be seen.
- Methods like ‘bio-logging’ to understand the underwater behaviour and natural habitats of free ranging gharials.