Efforts to conserve gharials turn fruitless

Chitwan, January 31

Several attempts launched for the conservation of rare gharials,a large long-snouted crocodile, have turned fruitless due to water pollution and growing human encroachment. Though hatchlings were released into rivers across the country with the aim of increasing gharial population, the drive has been fruitless so far.

Established in 1978, the Crocodile Breeding Centre in Chitwan National Park has made all possible efforts for the conservation of gharials.

The result, however, has not been encouraging. Bed Bahadur Khadka, assistant conservation officer at the park, said they had released more than 1,056 gharial hatchlings into six rivers, but all of them disappeared.

Khadka, who has been working for the conservation of the species for more than 15 years, said there are around 200 gharials in the rivers of Nepal at present.

Of them, around 100 gharials were found in Rapti and Narayani rivers. According to him, rivers around the national park area are a safe habitat for the species.

Meanwhile, the breeding centre has as many as 631 crocodiles. Khadka said growing water pollution and speedy flow of the rivers to India were the major reasons behind the declining population of the species.

“Once the crocodiles cross the barrage at the India-Nepal border points, they can not return to Nepali territory. Hence, above 75 per cent of the crocodile in Nepali rivers enter India, he claimed.