Despite several programs launched by different organizations, Gharial population in Nepal is declining.
Gharials are breeded in Chitwan national park based breeding center and off springs were released into various rivers since 1978. “The reptiles released in various rivers are declining in number unexpectedly,” said Assistant Conservation Officer at Chitwan National Park, Dec Bahadur Khadka.
The crocodile breeding center at Kasara, the headquarter of Chitwan national park have been releasing the amphibian reptiles into six rivers since 1981.
Visit Crocodile breeding center at Chitwan national park headquarter with other jungle safari activities like canoe ride to observe Gharial and Mugger crocodiles in their habitats, Jungle walk and jeep safari. Chitwan National Park >
According to Khadka, as many as 1,240 gharials have been released into Rapti, Narayani, Kaligandaki, Spatakoshi, Karnali and Babai rivers so far. However population of gharials are 150 each in Narayani and Rapti and 50 each in other rivers.
Increasing river pollution and human activities in the rivers have caused the decline in the population. Due to the habitat lost and shortage of food, about 75 % of the reptiles cross into the Indian territory with the river flow and don’t return.
A census carried out in the rivers of Nepal in March-April last year had shown an increase in the number of gharial crocodiles by 74, in comparison to the census carried out in 2013, when only 124 crocodiles were found in river of Nepal.
The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of two surviving members of the family Gavialidae. Gharial is the second longest type of crocodile found in the world. A fully grown male gharial can be 6 meters long.
Gharial are listed as critically endangered species that came to the brink of extinction in 1970es. Conservation efforts of environmentalists working with several governments reduced the threat of extinction by reducing poaching, habitat protection and captive breeding. Ranching operations launched collected eggs from the wild and raised the off springs in the captivity to protect them from natural predators. More than 3,000 gharials have been released throughout India and Nepal through these programs. There are seven breeding centers across India and Nepal including Chitwan and Bardia national park.
Recently this species has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered on the 2007 Red List of endangered species of animals and plants issued by the World Conservation.