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Biodiversity & Environment

Crocodilian Species in India

  • 01 Sep 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, Odisha's Kendrapara district has earned the distinction of being the only district in India where all three species of crocodiles, salt-water, gharial and mugger, are found.

Key Points

  • Mugger or Marsh Crocodile:
    • Description:
      • An egg-laying and hole-nesting species, also known to be dangerous.
    • Habitat:
      • Mainly restricted to the Indian subcontinent where it may be found in a number of freshwater habitat types and also in coastal saltwater lagoons and estuaries.
      • It is already extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar.
    • Threats:
      • Habitat destruction, fragmentation, and transformation, fishing activities and use of crocodile parts for medicinal purposes.
    • Protection Status:
  • Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodile:
    • Description:
      • Considered as the Earth’s largest living crocodile species, infamous globally as a known maneater.
    • Habitat:
    • Threats:
      • Illegal hunting, habitat loss, and antipathy toward the species because of its reputation as a maneater.
    • Protection Status:
      • IUCN List of Threatened Species: Least Concern
      • CITES : Appendix I (except the populations of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which are included in Appendix II).
      • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule I
  • Gharial:
    • Description:
      • Sometimes called gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot (ghara in Hindi).
      • The population of Gharials is a good indicator of clean river water.
      • Known to be a relatively harmless, fish-eating species.
    • Habitat:
      • Mostly found in fresh waters of the himalayan rivers.
      • The Chambal river in the northern slopes of the Vindhya mountains (Madhya Pradesh) is known as the primary habitat of gharials.
      • Other himalayan rivers like Ghagra, Gandak river, Girwa river, Ramganga river and the Sone river are secondary habitats.
    • Threats:
      • Illegal sand mining, poaching, increased river pollution, dam construction, massive-scale fishing operations and Floods.
    • Protection Status:
      • IUCN List of Threatened Species: Critically Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Odisha has announced a cash award of Rs. 1,000 to conserve gharials in Mahanadi River Basin.
    • The Crocodile Conservation Project was launched in 1975 in different States.

Source: DTE

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