Baby crocodiles, located in a remote region of Nepal, give hope to one of the rarest and endangered reptile “Gharial” (Gavialis gangeticus).
The Gharial is rare but critically endangered, with over a thousand adults remaining in the wild. The discovery of 100 hatchlings is a boost for these species’ potential recovery, according to scientists. The crocodile is clinging to survival in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
“Given the species is limited to about 5 populations across its entire range, this is such a real discovery, and a critical step for the long-term recovery of these species in Nepal,” researcher Rikki Gumbs of ZSL (Zoological Society of London) said.
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After trekking through the jungle for hours to sit on a ridge and eventually catch a glimpse of this hatchling below us, it was an incredible moment to capture,” said Ashish Bashyal, who directs the conservation project in Nepal.
“At around 30cm in size, they look exactly like mini versions of adult Gharials – so incredibly adorable,” he said.’ The 100 baby crocodiles, together with three adult females and a single male, were discovered in June, but details are only now being revealed to aid conservation efforts.
The crocodile has not been sighted in the area in 30 years, and there’s encouraging news in that the hatchlings have recently been seen after the monsoon rain.
“They have made it through the first big hurdle,” Rikki Gumbs told BBC News. “Especially with the dangers that are affecting the species, it is very significant that these hatchlings can make it into adulthood.” Once present across much of the Indian subcontinent, the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is virtually extinct across a lot of its former range, with fewer than 100 adult crocodiles remaining in Nepal and many fragmented populations in India.
Just one more breeding population is famous in Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The crocodile poses very little danger to humans.
But pressures remain, such as loss of habitat due to building of dams, as well as pollution, fishing, agriculture, and predation from another species of crocodile located in Nepal, although hunting and egg collection are now prohibited.
Adult Gharials are big, with males reaching in weight over 250kg and 5 meters in length. Males develop a lump at the end of their snouts, called a gharas, which provides the species its name. The adult female has body length of around 2.6 meters.
The Gharial is a fish eating crocodile and also knows as gavial.