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Odisha: Gharial hatchlings spotted for third consecutive year

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], May 31 (ANI): As many as 35 hatchlings of the gharial, a crocodile species, were spotted at the Satkosia gorge by the Mahanadi River in eastern Odisha, said forest officials.

The gorge is located within the Satkosia Tiger Reserve, which is designated as a United Nations Protected area. It is also designated as a Ramsar site in 2021. The gharial is listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Speaking to ANI, the principal chief conservator of forests (PPCF), SK Popli said Satkosia Gorge is the southernmost wild habitat for gharial and Odisha is fortunate to have three crocodile species available in the wild.

Popli said, “Satkosia Gorge is the southernmost wild habitat for Gharial. This is the southernmost limit with regard to the presence of gharials. Odisha is fortunate to have all three species of crocodiles available in the wild. We have Gharials in Satkosia Gorge and Mugger and Saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanik National Park.”

Satkosia is the only place in Odisha for Gharials. The government of Odisha took the initiative in the 1970s and started the project in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Popli informed about the efforts undertaken by the officials in breeding gharials in 2018-19 which did not succeed. Later, in 2019, they launched a captive breeding project to increase the count of gharials in the region.

“Till 2018 -19, we tried breeding gharials but our efforts didn’t fetch the desired results. Then in 2019, we launched a project called the ‘Gharial Recovery Mission’. While the gharials numbered only 3 to 5 in the wild at the time, we were breeding hundreds in captivity,” he said.

“We started captive breeding at Nandankan Zoo in Bhubaneswar,” he added.

“In 2019-21 we released satellites tagging 18-20 gharials in different age classes. However, for various reasons, we could only track 4 gharials in the wild. Mating happened in 2021,” he said.

“In the year 2021, 28 eggs of gharials were spotted in the area and 25 of them produced hatchlings of gharials that survived. This happened for the first time in several years. In 2022, the same female gharial laid fresh eggs, producing 32 hatchlings,” Popli added.

Further, he mentioned that in this year, 37 eggs were laid of which 35 produced hatchlings. These are being observed through CCTV cameras.

He said, “In 2023, 37 eggs have been laid so far of which 35 have produced hatchlings. We are tracking the newborns through CCTV cameras, especially between Binkai and Tikarapada. We are hopeful of making further progress going forward.”

“We have not only enhanced measures to ensure the protection of this species and are also engaged in assisting research in this direction,” he added. (ANI)

This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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