CHITWAN, Dec 24: Few years ago, the number of endangered gharials in the Rapti and Narayani rivers inside the Chitwan National Park (CNP) was comparatively high. But in the recent years, their population has been decreasing. The death of the one and only endangered male gharial of the Narayani River had worried the officials of CNP. This is the reason why officials of the national park had reached to Bardiya to bring a male gharial to Chitwan.
"Yesterday, at around 11 am, we found a male gharial in Babai River of Bardiya," said Ram Chandra Kandel, chief conservation officer of CNP. According to Kandel, the gharial was released in the Narayani River on Saturday. As stated by the officials, the crocodile is 35 years old and weighs approximately 800 kg. The team of CNP officials had reached Bardiya on December 18 in search of ghariyal.
Gharials, which is the largest reptile of the crocodile family, is on the verge of extinction due to threatened habitat in the recent days.
This creature can only survive in clean water and rivers which are away from human settlement. They prey on fish for survival. But most of the rivers in Nepal are polluted due to which the number of gharials is decreasing day by day. As per the calculation done a year ago, there were around 166 gharials in CNP and altogether 198 in the whole country.
CNP had established a Crocodile Breeding Center (CBC) around 35 years ago. The center can breed up to 500 crocodiles every season. After raising them for certain time, those crocodiles are left in rivers. But, only few of them survive. There was only one male gharial in CBC, which died in May after being trapped in a fishing net thrown by locals.
This had been a great setback for the officials of CNP. In Nepal, there are two types of crocodiles: mugger and gharial. Mugger crocodiles can survive in muddy rivers due to which there are less chances of their extinction. According to Ved Bahadur Khadka, chief of CBC and assistant conservation officer of CNP, gharials are more in danger of extinction than the one-horned rhinoceros.