Chambal sanctuary has more gharials now, but fewer dolphins

May 13th, 2008 - 12:02 pm ICT by admin  

By Sanjay Sharma
Bhopal, May 13 (IANS) There has been an increase in the number of aquatic animals in the National Chambal Sanctuary, officials claim, despite the death of more than 100 gharials, the indigenous sub-species of the crocodile. However, the officials have found fewer of the endangered Gangetic river dolphins this year in the sanctuary that straddles Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Only 86 dolphins could be spotted during the annual census this year as against 91 seen last year.

“Deaths of 35 crocodiles in the Madhya Pradesh portion and 75 crocodiles in the Uttar Pradesh portion of the National Chambal Sanctuary had occurred between December 2007 and February 2008,” P.B. Gangopadhyay, principal chief conservator of forests - wildlife (PCCF-Wildlife) in Madhya Pradesh, told IANS.

“But the latest census shows that the number of crocodiles in the sanctuary has not decreased due to this calamity. Instead, considerable increase has been registered in the number of aquatic animals as compared to last year.”

Forest department officials of the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments, scientists of Jivaji University, Gwalior, and representatives of the Madras Crocodile Bank and the World Nature Fund conducted the census together.

“Also, as compared to last year, 25 more alligators have been found during this year’s census. Similarly, 131 more crocodiles have also been seen,” said Gangopadhyay.

The census, he said, was conducted during Feb 11-23 along the 435-kilometre stretch of the Chambal river that comprises the sanctuary. It was found that the number of alligators has increased from 194 in 2007 to 219 this year.

“Among other water animals of the National Chambal Sanctuary, 996 crocodiles were seen as against 865 found last year. It is explicit from the survey that the number of crocodiles is increasing constantly in the sanctuary,” the PCCF-Wildlife said.

“This is also verified by the number of crocodile nests spotted during the survey. While only 77 nests were located last year, 81 nests have been found this year.”

Gangopadhyay said: “The rise in the crocodile number goes to prove that there is no hindrance to their natural breeding. Besides, conservation efforts like hatching and rearing of nests by the wildlife experts of the forest department have also helped add to the number of these water animals.

“Since flash floods in the Chambal valley are the biggest threats to their offsprings, we collect the nests much before the arrival of the monsoon and provide in-situ protection to them at the Hatching Centre at Deori. They are left in the Chambal waters only when they grow up to 1.2 metres or so.”

Officials have been carrying out a census of crocodiles and other water animals of the sanctuary since 2003.

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