Orissa breeds a record number of endangered gharials

Orissa breeds a record number of endangered gharials

The eggs of the gharials, members of the crocodile family, were collected from the wild and hatched artificially at the crocodile research farm.

"This year we had collected 79 eggs for artificial hatching. Much to our surprise, 63 eggs hatched," said Prasanna Kumar Behera, divisional forest officer of the wildlife sanctuary.

"We collect eggs and hatch them artificially every year but this year we have achieved the highest success rate so far," he added.

The baby crocodiles would be reared for a couple of years before they are released in the wild.

In 1975, the "rear and release" project to save gharials from extinction was launched with assistance from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Since its inception, the number of gharials has been growing at a steady pace. In 1995, the total population was 511. It rose to 1,285 in 2001. According to latest census, the number of gharials is 1,572.