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  • 05 July, 2021

  • 9 Min Read

Crocodile species in India

Crocodile species in India

There are 3 species of crocodilians in India —

  1. Saltwater/ Estuarine Crocodile;
  2. Mugger/ Marsh/ Indian/ Broad snouted Crocodile and
  3. Gharial or Gavial or Fish eating crocodile

Mugger Crocodile or Marsh Crocodile or Broad snouted crocodile

  1. It is mainly a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.
  2. It is Vulnerable in IUCN; Appendix I of CITES; Schedule I of WPA.
  3. Its habitat includes wetlands (inland), marine neritic (shallow part of the ocean), artificial/aquatic & marine. Vadodara is the only city in India where crocodiles live in their natural habitat amidst the human population.
  4. It is extinct in Myanmar and Bhutan and possibly extinct in Bangladesh.
  5. Recently Gujarat relocated Mugger crocodile from Sardar Sarovar dam to facilitate sea plane service at Statue of Unity.
  6. The mugger population is increasing in Odisha's Ghodahada reservoir.

Gharial or Gavial or Fish eating crocodile

  1. It is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is Critically Endangered by IUCN; Schedule I of WPA.
  2. The male gharial has an earthenware pot-like structure at the snout.
  3. Gharial once inhabited all major river systems of the Indian Subcontinent, from the Irrawaddy River in the east to the Indus River in the west. Their distribution is now limited to only 2% of their former range.
    1. India: Girwa River, Chambal River, Ken River, Son River, Mahanadi River, Ramganga River.
    2. Nepal: Rapti-Narayani River
  4. Sites: National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat WS, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.
  5. Threats: Hunting for skins, trophies and indigenous medicine, and their eggs collected for consumption, Decrease of riverine habitat as dams, barrages, irrigation canals and artificial embankments were built; siltation and sand-mining changed river courses.

Saltwater Crocodile

  • It is the largest of all living reptiles.
  • It is listed as the least concern by IUCN.
  • It is found throughout the east coast of India.

Conservation Efforts

  • Project Crocodile: (Gharial + SW, then Mugger added)
    1. Started in 1975 with the help of UNDP and FAO. Initially for Gharial and Saltwater crocodile and then Mugger was added.
    2. This includes a captive breeding programme and the involvement of the local community in conservation.
    3. Started in Odisha 1st as it has all 3 species of crocodiles.
  • Crocodile Census by Odisha
    1. The population of Saltwater crocodiles increased in Odisha's Bhitarkanika NP and in Kendrapara.
    2. The increase in population was primarily due to the far-sighted measures of the government.
  • ‘BAULA’ Project AT Dangamal in Bhitarkanika Sanctuary for Saltwater Crocodile.
  • MUGGER Project at Ramatirtha in Odisha.
  • Gharial Project at Tikrapara, Odisha. Odisha renews effort to revive Gharial (or Gavial or Fish Eating Crocodile) Population.
  • Captive Breeding of crocodiles at Nandankanan, Odisha.

Source: TH

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