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Ghariyals released in Ganges

india Updated: Jan 30, 2009 19:21 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times
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In a bid to save critically endangered crocodilian species Ghariyal the forest department in technical association with the WWF re introduced 60 of them in the upper Gangetic stream .

Transported from Kukrial breeding center near Lucknow these Ghariyals, with a mean total length of 1.25-1.75mtrs, were released in at the twilight of Thursday . MLA of Hastinapur Yogesh Verma , released the first Ghariyal into the Ganges with the help of Chief Conservator of forest of Meerut region Bibhas Ranjan , Dr Parikshit Gautam and Dr Sandeep Behra of WWF . Many inhabitants of near by villages including their Pradhan also became the eye witnesses of this historic moment . They also helped forest officials to release this critically endangered specie in its original habitat , the Ganges.

" As its name suggests , Gavials Gangeticus , this specie orginally have its habitat in Ganges . We are reintroducing it in Ganga after a lull of over a 17 years," asserted Bibhas Ranjan unfolding that teams have been constituted to regulate the movement of released Ghariyals. " Help of villagers has also been sought to save this animal which is at the verge extinction," said the chief conservator adding that 75 Ghariyals were released in the same stretch of Ganges in 1991 who could not survive beyond 2006. He explained that many precautions have been taken up this time to ensure the survival of the ghariyals released now. Soon 71 more of them would be released in Ganga .

Chief Conservator patiently replied to the querries of the villagers explaining that Ghariyals had never been found attacking humans , clarifying that it feeds only on small fishes . The senior forester also elaborated the difference between a crocodile and a ghariyal , appealing the villagers not to get confused between them and there is no need to panic.

During the release MLA Verma appealed the villagers to protect this endangered specie in Ganges which has its link with HIndu mythology . He elaborated that the presence of ghariyals would help in maintaining the bio diversity of the river . " Protect not to kill them because they are harmless to human life", he said.

Recently IUCN has declared the Ghariyals criticaly endangered and its surviving population in India is spread in less than half a dozen habitats of river Ken , Son, Mahanadi , Chambal, Girwa and Ramganga . "An estimate indicates that barely 1400 individuals survive in the wild ," said Dr. Parikshit Gautam of WWF adding that for its conservation it is essential to locate viable alternative habitats for this specie in crises .

The upper gangetic stretch of the river between Makhdoompur to Brijghat was found suitable for reintroduction of these Ghariyals . During a survey experts of forest department and WWF found Perennial stream with deep pools , undisturbed mid river sand bars , high end steep sand banks for nesting and multi stream braided channels with stagnent eddy counter currents available in the stretch which makes a suitable habitat for ghariyals.

" We had carried out massive awareness campaign among villagers before re introducing these Ghariyals in their vicinity," said Joga Singh, Asstt. Conservator of Forest hoping that villagers will extend their support in protecting this endangered specie.