Gharials or Gavials

  • Gharials or Gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot.
  • Their natural habitat is fresh waters of the northern part of India includes
  1. Primary Habitat – Chambal River
  2. Secondary Habitat – Ghaghra and Gandak river, Girwa river (Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh), Ramganga river in Jim Corbett National Park and the Sone river.
  • Population of Gharials are a good indicator of clean river water.
  • Gharials are a type of Crocodilians that also includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, etc.
  • In comparison to Crocodiles, Gharials are very shy and unharmful species.
  • Gharials are critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Species.
  • Listed under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Listed on Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Conservation Efforts includes
  1. Breeding Centres of Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, UP.
  2. National Chambal Sanctuary (Gharial Eco Park, Madhya Pradesh).
  • Major threats for Gharials includes
  1. Gharials prefer sandbanks as suitable habitats, Wild animals as well as humans often destroy their eggs.
  2. Increased river pollution, dam construction, massive-scale fishing operations and floods.
  3. Illegal sand mining and poaching.
  • Recently Government of Uttar Pradesh has released Gharials in the Ghaghara River for the conservation and protection in natural habitat.

Three important Crocodilias in India

  1. Mugger (or marsh) crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) – Vulnerable
  • The mugger crocodile is India’s most common species – They are not as long as saltwater crocodiles.
  • Their average size is about 13–14 feet, it is found in lakes and rivers throughout the country.
  1. Saltwater crocodile (C. porosus) – Least Concern
  • They are found in the eastern states of Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Nicobar and Andaman Islands.
  • Saltwater crocodiles live in the mangroves of Bhittarkanika and Sunderbans, Mahanadi Delta, and in the swamplands in Odisha and West Bengal (including rivers).
  1. Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) – Critically Endangered.
  • It is found in river areas, though is greatly reduced from its previous range.

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