Critically Endangered Crocodile Species – The Gharial on the Brink of Extinction

In a web log article back in February we reported on the mysterious deaths of a number of adult Gharial crocodiles in their last remaining sanctuaries in northern India.    This long-snouted fish-eating Crocodilian can trace its ancestry back to the dinosaurs but the species is facing extinction.

To read the first article: Time Running Out for the Indian Gharial

Analysis of the bloated corpses of these crocodiles show high levels of lead, but the fish that they eat don’t show any significant levels of this toxic metal.  The demise of the Gharial in one of the last natural habitats remains a mystery.

In another one of the few places in India where these animals can still be seen in the wild, their last nesting sandbank is under threat from construction companies anxious to commandeer the sand for use in building projects.

The plight of this extremely rare reptile and the work of a remarkable group of conservationists as they attempt to save it is highlighted in a BBC 2 programme this evening – part of the Natural World series.

Herptologist Romulus Whitaker in collaboration with other conservationists has set up a “crocodile bank” (Madras Crocodile Bank Trust), this conservation centre has managed to start a breeding programme for gharials (the first time this has been achieved).  Thanks to efforts of Romulus and his dedicated team this magnificent creature may have a future after all.

The Natural World is broadcast tonight at 8pm GMT on BBC2.

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