Gharial conservation I Gharial conservation initiatives in India

Gharial conservation

Updated on 18 September, 2019

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NGT has directed the state authorities of Madhya Pradesh to take effective steps for the conservation of Gharial in the Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and submit the report in three weeks. About Gharial Gharial conservation

  • Scientific name- Gavialis gangeticus
  • The gharial is one of the largest crocodiles in the world with some males reaching a body length of up to 6 m (20 ft).
  • It is one of the three species of crocodiles native to India, the saltwater crocodile, and the mugger crocodile being the other two.
  • Gharial derives its name from the distinctive boss at the end of the snout, which resembles an earthenware pot known in Hindi as
  • It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Habitat and Distribution
  • Gharial prefers to live in riverine habitats with deep, clear, fast-moving water and steep, sandy banks.
  • Deep pools, formed at sharp river bends are another preferred spot.
  • They use sandy banks (at river's edge or mid-river) and rocky outcrops for basking.
  • Small, isolated populations can be found spread over the northern Indian subcontinent in river drainages
  • Locally extinct in many areas
  • Once found in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar but now distribution is limited to only 2% of its historical range.
  • In India, the population can be found in- Ramganga River in Corbett National Park, Girwa River in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Gandak River downstream the Triveni barrage west of Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Chambal River in National Chambal Sanctuary, Son River, Mahanadi River in Odisha's Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Barak River.
Threats Percentage of Gharial conservation
  • The wild population of Gharial declined from an estimated 436 adult gharials in 1997 to fewer than 250 mature individuals in 2006.
  • The most important reason behind this was their being hunted for skins, trophies and indigenous medicine, and their eggs were collected for consumption. Hunting is however no longer a significant threat.
  • The main threat now is habitat destruction by human beings.
  • Farming and agriculture, dam construction, mining, and general disturbance are other threats.
  • Even livestock such as water buffalo and cattle have destroyed and damaged riverbanks, sandbanks and gharial nests by simply grazing.
  • Increase of fishing and the use of gill nets trap and drown Gharials.
  • River pollution
Conservation status
  • The gharial is listed on CITES Appendix I
  • In India, it is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Gharial conservation initiatives in India
  • The Indian Crocodile Conservation Project was started in Odisha's Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary in 1975. The project was provided with the financial aid of the United Nations Development Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • A gharial breeding center was built in Nandankanan Zoological Park to give a boost to the dwindling population.
  • About sixteen crocodile rehabilitation centers and five crocodile sanctuaries including the National Chambal Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary were established in India between 1975 and 1982.
  • A National Tri-State Chambal Sanctuary Management and Coordination Committee for gharial conservation was set up in the National Chambal Sanctuary along the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in 2010.
  • Gharials are bred in captivity in the National Chambal Sanctuary and in the Gharial Breeding Centre in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, where the eggs are hatched.
  • 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.
  • Even in Gandak which constitutes India’s second-largest gharial population after the Chambal river, surveys estimate an increase in the population of gharials to 210. Read More Articles: Animals as Legal Entities Great Indian Bustard

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