A national body on the lines of National Tiger Conservation Authority to protect critically endangered gharials for the country in on the anvil.
The Environment ministry on Monday will inform the Standing Committee of the National Wildlife Board of its intention to set up National Gharial Conservation Authority for providing a holistic conservation module for gharials in rivers of Girwa, Son, Ken, Ramganga, Ghagra, Chambal, Ghandak and Brahmaputra.
Gharials are found mostly in Chambal river ecosystem in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, apart from some parts of Nepal. Only a few thousands of them survive owing to water pollution and habitat loss. Several gharials have died a few years ago because of water contamination from river Yamuna into Chambal, its tributary.
In a bid to ensure better coordination for their protection, the ministry has already constituted National Tri-State Chambal Sanctuary Management and Coordination Committee with Director World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) as national coordinator.
The committee is a prelude to constitution of the authority having representatives of the states including NGOs and local representatives.
One of the key roles of the committee will be guide river authorities to ensure sufficient flow of water in Chambal and other river streams crucial for improving gharial habitat. It will also train local forest officials in providing proper basking and nesting space for gharials during breeding season --- January to July.
The ministry has also asked the committee to formulate recovery plan for gharials to be implemented in the three states. With this, the Centre will provide more money for gharial conservation, officials said.
The standing committee is also expected to consider a proposal to include Jerdon Courser, one of the world’s rarest birds found in Andhra Pradesh in 1986, in the national programme for recovery of endangered species. The Bombay Natural History Society has prepared a recovery plan for the bird.