Gharial or Gavial is a not-so-familiar animal we come across while skimming through wildlife research pages or broadcasting programs. Usually confused with a crocodile, Gharials belong to the family of Gavialidae and are found along the banks of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar. The Gharial is known for its peculiar features and is on the brink of disappearing.
Distinctive Features and Facts About Gharial
There are some physical peculiarities about are only unique to the Gharial species
Here are some fun facts as follows:
- The average weight of a Gharial is around 160 kgs. It has a flat body structure which allows it to move less than four meters from the ground.
- The Gharial has a set of 110 sharp pointed teeth, a long snout, and is about 12 to 15 feet long.
- The Gharial’s diet comprises fresh-water fish, insects, and frogs. The long snout makes it easier for the Gharial to snap a prey between its jaw.
- Gharial usually makes its home in areas that are surrounded by deep waters and sandy shores.
- The eggs laid by a female Gharial are recorded to be the largest amongst all the crocodilian species.
- These animals like basking in the sun.
With the growing idea of anthropocentrism, there has been a rise in human encroachments on natural habitats. Human interference is one of the main underlying reasons for depleting number of Gharials in the past few years. The staggering decline in the number of species is due to the following reasons:
- Every year these species are poached for their medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
- Expansion of socio-economic development projects such as building dams, Illegal sand mining, fishing activities, etc. has pushed them on the verge of extinction.
Presently, there is around 650 adult Gharial left for survival on our planet. This number points to a possible wipe-out in the near future if proper methods of conservation are not carried out.
Conservation of Gharial Species
Various Governments have carried out a number of conservation measures and enforced stricter laws to address the concerns of rapid extinction of the Gharial species.
A few notable efforts of conservation could be as follows:
- In India, the Gharial enjoys protection under the Wildlife Act of 1972 which states “hunting of any wild species is forbidden by the law”. This law was put in order to protect and secure the ecological status of wildlife and nature.
- Nepal also raised eyebrows over the increasing low figures of Gharials. The Nepalese Government launched the “Gharial Conversation Programme” at Kasara in Royal Chitwan National Park. This program focuses on re-populating, rearing, and releasing Gharial in the river beds; to prevent any future extinction dangers.
- Bangladesh also bolstered its Wildlife Protection Policies and raised awareness about the grim situation.
Gharials are a rarely talked-about mammal; they require the world’s attention so that their harsh conditions can be talked about more often. This mammal is one of the rarest big species seen around the banks of the Indian sub-continent, which makes building a collective effort to conserve it an utmost priority.
FAQs on Gharial
Q.1. Do Gharials pose any danger to mankind?
Gharials are harmless and docile creatures; It does not exhibit any aggressive or attacking behaviour towards humans.
Q.2 Are Gharials crocodiles?
No, Gharials are generally easily mistaken as crocodiles. Though they may share a common origin but do have many distinguishable features that make them different
Q.3 Which state in India is home to a large Gharial Population?
Madhya Pradesh houses a large amount of Gharial population followed by the state of Bihar.
Q.4 Do Gharials have any mythological symbolism to the Indian culture?
Yes, Gharials were once upon a time considered the vessel of the deity Ganga. It was also known for its curing and healing capacities.