Challenges in conservation of Gharial crocodiles

Ratnanagar, Feb 18 : Conservation of the Gharial crocodile, a rare species of crocodiles in the world, has become challenging. the Chitwan National Park (CNP) has set up the crocodile breeding centre at local Kasara since 40 years for its conservation. Although the Park has been protecting the Gharial crocodiles at the breeding centre, the number of those crocodiles released in the wild is not found to have increased.

CNP has been annually releasing more than 150 Gharial crocodiles reaching five years in the Rapti, Narayani and Babai rivers. The Park has so far released over 1,300 crocodiles in these rivers.
A total 200 Gharial crocodiles are found in these rivers at present.

Assistant conservation officer at the Chitwan National Park, Ved Bahadur Khadka, said the crocodile breeding centre has been collecting crocodile eggs at vulnerable spots in the Rapti and Narayani rivers and hatching babies from these.

“It requires approximately one million rupees to bring up a Gharial baby for five years. Although we have been releasing the crocodiles in the rivers every year their number has not gone up. The main reason is river pollution,” he said.

Khadka said that more challenge has been faced in Gharial crocodile conservation due to ongoing excavation of sand and pebbles at their habitat in the rivers, crocodiles being swept away by flood towards India and killed after being trapped in nets laid out by fishermen. As per the data of the Park, four crocodiles died after being trapped in net till February 12, 2019 from mid-August 2018.

Chief Conservation Officer at Chitwan National Park, Ved Prasad Dhakal, said that the existence of gharial crocodile would be disappeared if activities making adverse impact on water creatures and water pollution are not stopped.

He further said that mining river based aggregates should be completely stopped as crocodiles use sand to lay egg as well as to hatch babies. A total 10 employees have been deputed for gharial crocodile conservation. Conservationists have expressed concern over not increasing number of gharial crocodile despite spending a large amount in conservation of gharial crocodile. (RSS)

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