Gharial Hatchlings seen in Odisha

Forest Department of Odisha has witnessed an adult Gharial surrounded by 28 hatchlings at Satkosia gorge in Mahanadi river which is considered as southernmost limit of gharials’ home range in India.

How is it significant?

Forest department has been trying for 15 years to increase the population of gharials in their natural habitat in Odisha. For long, the State Forest Department has been trying to increase the population of gharials in their natural habitat in Odisha. However, it yielded desired result. Thus, sight of mated gharials and their hatchlings becomes significant.

The Gharial

Gharial, also called as gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is a crocodilian of family Gavialidae. It is one among longest of all living crocodilians. Mature females are 2.6–4.5 m long while and males are 3–6 m long. They are called as Gharial because they have a distinct boss at the end of snout, resembling an earthenware pot or ghara. They are well adapted to catching fish.

Background

It is believed that gharial evolved in northern Indian subcontinent. Because, Fossil gharial remains were collected from Pliocene deposits in Shivalik Hills and Narmada River valley.

Natural Habitat

Currently, Gharials inhabit rivers in northern plains of Indian subcontinent. They are most thoroughly aquatic crocodilian. They leave water only for basking and building nests on moist sandbanks.

Concerns

Population of gharial is declining dramatically since 1930s. they are limited to only 2% of its historical range now. Loss of habitat is occurring because of sand mining and conversion of agriculture, decreasing fish resources etc. Though, India and Nepal started conservation programmes with focused on reintroducing captive-bred gharials. But they are listed as ‘critically endangered’ in IUCN Red List since 2007.

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