At least 28 gharial hatchlings have been sighted with their mom in the Satkosia gorge of the Mahanadi river in the first-ever case of breeding of the reptiles in natural situations, wildlife officers mentioned on Sunday.
The tiny hatchlings have been sighted on the again of the mom gharial and have been additionally swimming independently in the gorge by Odisha wildlife officers over the previous few days. Distinguishable by their lengthy snout, the gharials are thought of to be among the many most critically endangered crocodiles with an estimated 200-400 remaining in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh as their habitat is threatened as a result of human encroachment and disruption of inhabitants via fishing actions. They are additionally genetically weak as in comparison with salt water crocodiles and muggers. Gharials caught by chance in fishing nets are both hacked to loss of life or have their snout chopped off by fishermen.
Divisional forest officer of the Mahanadi wildlife division, HB Udgata mentioned that is the primary time in the previous 15 years that gharials have been seen breeding in natural situations away from the unreal breeding centres.
“Though we have been trying hard to get them to breed, it was not possible due to boating and fishing activities. In the last one year, four forest divisions around the gorge worked together to make the western part of Satkosia totally inviolate by stopping fishing and boating activities. Three of our research assistants also monitored the gharials and their courtship, which paid off,” mentioned Udgata.
The DFO mentioned that is the primary time that gharials have bred in natural situations south of the Chambals the place they’re usually discovered. “The key was minimising human interference and it worked. They eat only fish and once fishing stopped they had plenty to eat. Given a chance, wildlife can make a stunning comeback,” he mentioned.
Only 14 gharials have been noticed on the Satkosia gorge in 2019. A gharial project was began in Tikarpada in 1975 with the intention to extend their inhabitants as they don’t seem to be thought of as harmful as different crocodiles.
The state forest division in June 2019 launched six gharials fitted with radio transmitters from the Nandankanan zoo into the Mahanadi river to trace their migratory routes in order to save lots of them from extinction. While two gharials died, one moved to the Luna river in Kendrapara district and lined round 150km. In December 2019, one other radio transmitter-fitted gharial was killed by some fishermen in the Mahanadi.