New population of Critically Endangered Gharials found on the Ganges10/12/2010 10:28:59 Small but breeding population found - Our thanks to IRebel & Tanmoy Ghosh
To their surprise and delight, they recorded some 40 gharial sightings and photographed 2 large females. They also found several small, newly hatched animals and have estimated that this population probably numbers between 150-200.
In light of these dismal prospects, establishing the presence of gharials in areas of their historic range where they have not been officially documented for over 40 years is tantamount to granting the species a possible reprieve from oblivion.
According to the IUCN Red Data List, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a critically endangered species. Fewer than 200 breeding adults survive in the wild, and there are indications this number is declining precipitously. It has been extirpated from most of its historic range, including from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. It can now be found only in highly fragmented habitat in India and Nepal.
It is now crucial to identify and protect suitable breeding habitat for the newly identified population if they are to have a chance to persist and flourish, so this study necessarily includes an assessment of the extent and quality of potential gharial habitat within the study area. Equally vital is addressing threats to specimens or the viability of its habitat.
Special thanks goes to the Honourable Shabhadipati of Hooghly Zilla Parishad, Mr. Asit Patra, without whose support and encouragement in every possible way this project would not have been possible.