Ghariyal population rising in Chambal
LUCKNOW: The new ghariyal hatchlings at the national chambal sanctuary give a boost to ghariyal conservation. After more than 100 ghariyals died in Chambal between December 2007 and March 2008, their number has increased to 785, at present, from 300-odd ghariyals three years back. One of the major reasons why ghariyal population is going down is the destruction of the habitat. Illegal sand mining and illegal fishing along the banks of Chambal river destroy the habitat of ghariyals.
"These are the two direct threats to ghariyals," said DFO, Chambal national sanctuary, Sujoy Banerjee. The illegal sand mining on the banks of the river destroys the habitat of ghariyals and disturbs their basking area. More than that, since ghariyals lay their eggs under sand beds, illegal sand mining destroys their nests.
Similarly, illegal fishing in the sanctuary area also threatens their existence. Ghariyals get caught in the nets and die due to drowning or, at times, fishermen break their snouts to free them from the nets. "We have been trying to control the illegal activities and the results are showing," said the official. The census 2012-13 counted 785 ghariyals in the chambal sanctuary this year in Uttar Pradesh.
The forest department has also located nesting sites like Barenda village where 24 nests have been identified. "At least 14 of these tests have been protected by the department," said the official. The forest department has protected about 42 nests at several locations like Bamrauli, Gudha, Mau Imli Khar, Chiknipura ghat, Udaipur Khurd, Gohra top and Kyori. Each nest houses 35-40 eggs. This is done by fixing a wire mesh and securing the nests on four sides with long iron staves. This is to protect the eggs from jackals, dogs and other animals who dig up the nests to eat the eggs.
If the eggs hatch safely, more than 2,500 to 3,000 hatchlings will find their way to Chambal river. Since some of these areas are communal nesting sites of ghariyals, there would be more nests than the number counted. The official said that the survival of hatchlings depends more on the intensity of flooding in the river. The width of the river which is not even 50 meters at the time of hatching is more than a kilometer wide with swift flowing water during rainy season. "Many of the hatchlings eventually do not survive beyond the rainy season," he said.
The population of ghariyals, despite all odds, has registered a remarkable increase in the sanctuary. There were 307 ghariyals in 2008-09, the number rose to 674 in 2011-12. Similarly, the mugger population in the Chambal sanctuary, UP has also gone up from 74 in 2008-09 to 122 in 2011-12 to 181 in 2012-13.