Around 100 gharial hatchlings were found in Bardia National Park.
The Gharial crocodile (Gavialis gangeticus) hasn’t been observed breeding in Nepal for 37 years. Until now. Zoological Society of London and Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal conservationists have reported that more than 100 gharial hatchlings were discovered in Bardia National Park.
The IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group published the findings of the ZSL’s EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) of Existence conservation initiative last week. The groups estimate that there are less than 100 adults left in Nepal and several fragmented populations in India. It is believed that there are no gharial remaining across the species’ former range.
According to the Nepali Times, the reptiles have suffered a 98 percent decline in their wild populations since the 1940s due to the construction of dams that destroy their riverine habitat, irrigation canals, sand mining, pollution and agriculture.
Now that more than 100 gharial hatchlings are known to live in the Bardia National park, conservationists can focus their efforts on the area, conduct studies on whether they can be translocated from the south to Chitwan province, and research the survival rates of the hatchlings.
The gharial is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is known to exist in just 2 percent of its former range. Males can grow to 20 feet in length and feeds on fish.