353 gharial eggs collected

Chitwan, June 15

The crocodile breeding centre based in the Chitwan National Park has collected 353 gharial crocodile eggs found in precarious condition.

According to the National Park assistant conservation officer and the chief of breeding centre Bed Bahadur Khadka, the eggs were collected from the banks of Rapti and Narayani rivers. “Altogether 135 eggs were rescued from five of seven nests found on the banks of the Rapti River; and the remaining 218 were collected from seven of twelve nests on the Narayani River banks,” he said, adding, the eggs from seven nests were out of harm’s way when discovered.

The breeding centre, set up in 1978 with the sole motive of increasing the number of crocodiles, has been collecting crocodile eggs. It generally takes 65 to 90 days for the eggs buried under sand to hatch, after which hatchlings are brought up till a certain age by the breeding centre, and then released into different rivers. Ever year, crocodiles lay eggs in April. “We collect and rescue eggs, that are at risk of harm from other wildlife, flooding and increasing human activities,” Khadka said, adding 10 persons were assigned to spot the crocodiles’ nests.

The breeding centre has a total of 500 crocodiles now. “So far we’ve released 1,246 baby crocodiles into various rivers,” he said. The latest data show a total of 198 crocodiles in various rivers of Nepal— 84 in Narayani, 82 in Rapti, 31 in Babai and one in Karnali. Earlier in 2013, there were only 134 crocodiles in Nepal.