- The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), or the gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is a crocodilian of the family Gavialidae.
- Sadly, the global population of this rather impressive animal is perhaps only less than 235 individuals.
- Loss of riverine habitat, depletion of fish resources and also the use of fishing nets all threaten the crocodile.
- Further, the numbers of Gharial have declined so drastically in the past 70 years that now the creature lists on IUCN‘s Critically Endangered list.
Gharial Physical Description
Typically, the adult Gharial has a dark olive color tone, while young ones are a rather pale olive with dark brown spots or cross-bands.
This amazing reptile also ranks as one of the longest of all living crocodiles. For example, adults may measure up to 20.5 ft (6.25 m) in length.
With 110 sharp interdigitated teeth in its long thin snout, the Gharial is well adapted to catching fish, its main diet.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Crocodilia
- Family: Gavialidae
- Genus: Gavialis
- Species: G. gangeticus
Gharial Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Its territory also spanned the rivers of its northern part from the Indus River in Pakistan across the Gangetic floodplain to the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Unfortunately, the distribution of the Gharial is also now within only 2% of their former range. Today, it is extinct in the Indus River, in the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh, and in the Irrawaddy River.
In India, rather small populations are present and increasing. The Gharial is also limited to the rivers of the Katarniaghat Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Odisha. In Nepal, small populations are slowly recovering in tributaries of the Ganges. Those are places such as the Narayani-Rapti river system in Chitwan National Park and the Karnali-Babai river system in Bardia National Park.
In 1977, scientists found four nests in the Girwa River of Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Before 2006, they released 909 Gharials there.
Consequently, twenty nests existed in 2006, and 16 nesting females resulted from 30 years of re-introductions. Unfortunately, this number is an insufficient achievement.
Several researchers have also suggested that perhaps carrying capacity is at maximum.
In 1978, experts discovered twelve nests in the Chambal River in the National Chambal Sanctuary. By 2006, however, nesting had increased to 68 nests. Yet, the recruited mature reproducing females constituted only about 2% of the total number scientists released.
Last, the annual monsoon flooding is always likely to flush downstream out of protected areas the newly hatched Gharial young.