Chitwan, February 11
Chitwan National Park officials have released gharials reared at the Crocodile Breeding Centre into the Rapti River.
According to Chitwan National Park Chief Protection Officer Bed Kumar Dhakal, the gharials were set free in the Rapti River in the presence of Britain’s envoy to Nepal Richard Morris, National Nature Conservation Fund’s Sarita Gyawali, Department of Park Managing Director Man Bahadur Khadka, among others.
The CNP plans to release 100 gharials bred and reared at the centre into the river this year.
CNP started breeding gharials and releasing them in various rivers across the country from 1981.
A breeding centre was set up in 1978. A total of 1,380 gharials have been set free in different rivers to date, said Dhakal. The breeding centre has more than 500 gharials at present. Eggs collected from river banks are hatched at the centre.
The latest data shows Rapti and Narayani rivers have 118 and 101 gharials respectively. As many as 700 and 399 gharials reared at the centre have been set free in Rapti and Narayani rivers so far. Similarly, 35 were released in Kaligandaki, 41 in Karnali and 95 in Saptakoshi rivers.
Contamination of river water, encroachment and loss of river-borne materials have posed a challenge to efforts to protect gharials. “Had we not bred and set gharials free in the rivers, no river in the country would have had gharials,” said Dhakal.
A version of this article appears in print on February 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.