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Chitwan National Park begins artificial hatching of Gharials April 2002
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Animals of riverbanks: Gharial Crocodiles
Common names
Indian gharial, Indian gavial (the latter probably created by a misspelling, even carried to the genus - name derived from an Indian pot, a ghara, which resembles the bulbous nasal appendage present on mature males), Fish-eating crocodile, Gavial del Ganges, Gavial du Gange, Long-nosed crocodile, Bahsoolia, Nakar, Chimpta, Lamthora, Mecho Kumhir, Naka, Nakar, Shormon, Thantia, Thondre, Garial
Chitwan riverbank
Narayani riverbank - home of the gharials
Name etymology
Gavialis is a corrupted derivation from the Hindi word ghariyal which is a name for "crocodile".
gangeticus means "of the Ganges (River)", where -icus means "belonging to"
"Gavial" is a mis-spelling of the word "Gharial" (derived from the Hindi ghariyal) that refers to the ghara (Hindi for "pot") - a swelling around the nostrils of mature male.
Area distribution

Northern India subcontinent: Bangladesh (close to being extirpated), Bhutan (possibly extirpated), India, Myanmar (possibly extirpated), Nepal, Pakistan (close to being extirpated). They are found within the river systems of the Brahmaputra (Bhutan & India), the Indus (Pakistan), the Ganges (India & Nepal), and the Mahanadi (India), with small populations in the Kaladan and the Irrawaddy in Burma.


Riverine - more adapted to an aquatic lifestyle in the calmer areas of deep, fast-moving rivers. The gharial is poorly equipped for locomotion on land. It usually only leaves the water to bask and nest, both of which usually occur on sandbanks.

Summary: Fragmented distribution, but population recovering due to positive conservation efforts which continue today

Characteristic elongate, narrow snout, similar only to the false gharial, (Tomistoma schlegelii).
Variation in snout shape occurs with age (generally becomes proportionally longer and thinner with increasing age).

The bulbous growth on the tip of the male's snout is called a 'Ghara' (after the Indian word meaning 'pot'), present in mature individuals. It has several functions attributed to it: a vocal resonator (which produces a loud buzzing noise during vocalisation), a visual stimulus to females, and the production of bubbles associated with sexual behaviour.

The elongated jaws are lined with many interlocking, razor-sharp teeth - an adaptation to the diet (predominantly fish in adults). The gharial is one of the largest of all crocodilian species, approaching C. porosus in maximum size - males reach at least 5 metres in length, and often approach 6 metres. Reports of 7 metre animals exist, but are unconfirmed.

The gharial is poorly equipped for locomotion on land - the leg musculature is not suited to raise the body off the ground (to produce the 'high-walk' gait - being able only to push its body forward across the ground ('belly-sliding'), although it can do this with some speed when required. It is, however, very agile in the water - the tail is well-developed and laterally flattened, and the rear feet possess extensive webbing.


Chitwan National Park begins artificial hatching of Gharials

April 2002

With an aim to preserve the rare Gharial crocodile, the Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP) have begun collecting the eggs from its natural habitat. The egg will be hatched under the direct inspection of the RCNP experts. The RCNP decided to take this step, as the number of crocodile of this species was decreasing due to different reasons. The eggs of crocodile could not prosper in the natural habitat, as the people used to steal them for medicine use. Sometimes they were swept away by flood and were also eaten by wild animals.

The Park decided to finish the egg collection work within the first week of Baishakh (April-May), as crocodiles lay eggs in this season. Prior to the collection of the eggs, a team will undergo research in the natural habitat of crocodiles. The necessary work for the egg collection has already begun in the banks of Narayani, Kaligandaki and Rapti area,. The eggs will then be taken to the Gharial Crocodile Reproductive Centre inside the RCNP. The egg will hatch after it is kept in the sand for 60-90 days. Then the hatched babies will be kept in the artificial pond, which will be released in its natural habitat after three years old. The survival rate in the natural habitat is only one percent where as under the artificial hatching, 30 percent will survive among 80 to 90 percent of hatched babies.

The Reproductive Centre has been working to preserve the Gharial crocodile since its establishment in 1978. And the Centre has released around 518 baby crocodiles in different rivers like Narayani, Kaligandaki, Babai and Koshi till date. The Centre had released 10 Gharial crocodiles in the Narayani River in February last year. There are altogether 145 crocodiles of different age group, 123 of them Gharial and 22 Magar. It is estimated that a Gharial female can lay around 32-62 eggs at a time.

Out of 21 types of crocodiles in the world, 9 types are in critical condition. These Gharial crocodiles are found only in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Crocodiles are in danger due to various reasons like they are killed for skin, floods sweep away their eggs, lack of fish (their main food) in the rivers and the threat from their own bigger adults.

External links
Crocodile Links - english Crocodile Links - english
Save the Environment Foundation WWF
Department of National Parks
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