Govt formulates special plan for gharial conservation

Govt formulates special plan for gharial conservation

The Environment Ministry has constituted a three-tier decentralised coordination mechanism for the conservation of the gharials, one of the largest crocodiles which can grow up to seven metres in length, in its natural habitat in Chambal and Girwa rivers in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

"The mechanism ---National Tri-State-Chambal Sanctuary Management and Coordination Committee (NTRIS-CASMACC) -- will give a fillip to protection, conservation and recovery of gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) in the gharial reserves of India," said a Ministry order.
The committee will look into the entire gamut of issues related to conservation of gharial, and the development of a conservation strategy and action plan for gharials and their habitats in India.

The committee will also examine socio-economic matters relating to "community-gharial interface" and recommend appropriate short-term and long-term measures aimed at enhancement of livelihood support of the local communities and to enthuse in them the sense of ownership of efforts for gharial conservation.

Additional Director General of Forests (WL) and Director, Wildlife Preservation will be the chairman of the the National Steering Committee, which is the first tier.

Director of WWF-India, one of the largest organisations engaged in wildlife and nature conservation in the country, will be the convenor of the second tier -- NTRIS-CASMACC -- and the third tier will be headed by the Divisional Forest Officer.

According to WWF-India, about 1200 gharials survive in the wild in India and less than 100 in Nepal. About 1000 gharials are also being reared in various zoos and captive centres.

"Gharials reside exclusively in river habitats with deep, clear, fast-flowing waters and steep, sandy banks. Adult gharials prefer still, deep pools, formed at sharp river-bends and river confluences and use sandy banks for basking and breeding. Young gharials are found in much shallower, rapid flowing stretches in the water," it says.

Gharials, which once almost became extinct because of hunting for their valuable skins, are today threatened by destruction or intense human pressure on their habitat, the WWF-India says.

In some places their eggs are stolen for eating while many young gharials die every year by accidentally getting trapped in fishermen's nets.

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