Named after the ‘ghara’, an earthenware pot whose shape resembles the bulb that males develop at the end of their snout, the gharial crocodile is a fish-eating crocodilian that can be found in India and Nepal.
Critically endangered, it is under threat from: infrastructure development and resulting changes in river flows and habitat connectivity; reduction in their fish prey base; entanglement in fishing gear; destruction of nesting and basking sites due to sand mining, riverbank agriculture and other human disturbance; water pollution; and most likely climate change.
Not much research has been done about gharials in the Ganges river basin. WWF-India is seeking to address this gap by undertaking population surveys, gathering biometric data and running a radio-telemetry study. The documentation of present and potential future distribution of gharials, as well as their habitat preferences, is vital for understanding population dynamics and planning species-oriented conservation programmes.
WWF has also been working closely with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department to release captive-reared juvenile gharials within the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary. Ultimately, WWF’s aim is to establish a breeding population of gharials in the Ganges river basin.
Read the case study (2017) PDF describing this work