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- By: Admin
Crocodiles are the semiaquatic reptiles that live in the tropical areas of Asia, Africa, Australia and America. These creatures reside in big tropic lakes, rivers and dams; they remain dormant in dry climates and aestivate. Crocodiles cannot breathe while they are underwater; however, they can hold their breath from 20 minutes to an hour. Such reptiles have various colour patterns and range from grey to brown. Crocodiles have different colours and shapes. Most common types of crocodiles we see are greenish-brownish in colour. They are famous for their sharp teeth and claws. One fun fact about crocodiles is that they cannot stick out their tongues.
Nepal is rich in wildlife and biodiversity. There is crocodile habitat in Nepal as well. The wetland biodiversity of this country includes crocodiles. At the sandbanks at the western, lowland lakes crocodiles bask in the sun and use for nesting. There is crocodile breeding centre for the preservation of these species.
There are two species of Crocodylidae family in the land of Nepal. The species include the marsh mugger and gharial. The scientific name of mugger is Crocodylus palustris; it is a vulnerable reptile in this country. Gharial falls under the subfamily of Gavialinae hence the scientific name Gavialis gangeticus. In 1974, gharial was on the verge of extinction. About 150 adults were living in this range. Because of the degradation of crocodile habitat in Nepal, there have been subsequent measures to save them. There were subsequent restocking and breeding programs for crocodiles in Nepal and India.
The mugger and gharial are present in the Indian subcontinent. The history of mugger crocodile goes back to Iran and Pakistan as well as Bangladesh for gharial. The gharial crocodiles in Nepal live at the river systems here. These rivers include the Karnali, Babai, Mahakali, Bheri and the Narayani river along with its tributaries. These are some famous place for crocodiles in Nepal. It comprises of the Kali Gandaki river in the central part of Nepal. Also, they are present in the Sapta Koshi Tappu region on the eastern side.
The mugger crocodiles in Nepal live across different Terai regions. They reside in Terai areas like the east and west Rapti, the Koshi and Narayani river systems. Over the years, the muggers and gharials coexist together in Narayani, Babai and Karnali rivers.
Over the years, the population of gharials in Sapta Koshi rivers and Mahakali has been low. The remnant numbers of these creatures live in Babai, Karnali & Narayani rivers. They are close to protected reserves in Chitwan National park and Bardiya National Park.
The muggers live around protected places like Bardia, Chitwan National park, and the Shukla Panta Wildlife reserve. Researches report few numbers in Lumbini and Sapta Koshi area. The bahuni river and Mahakali are close to Shukla Panta reserve and also adjacent to Uttar Pradesh. However, over the years the population of this crocodile is decreasing—one of the leading causes being habitat loss.
In mid-1970, the gharial population was getting low up to 300 in the range. It was almost on the verge of extinction. At that period, only seventy gharials crocodiles were there in Rapti, Karnali, Babai, Narayani and Koshi rivers. The reason for this was people stealing their eggs, poaching for skin, pollution, reservoir and dam construction, poisoning of fishes and more. For this reason, the Nepal government set up the gharial breeding centre in Kasara at Chitwan National park in the year 1978. This breeding centre facilitates for artificial conditions to hatch crocodile eggs. When the baby crocodiles grow up, they transfer to the rivers. This crocodile breeding centre aims to create viable options for wildlife protection and preservation.
From the year 1984 to 2017, crocodile breeding centre has been able to release around 1246 gharials to the river systems like Kaligandaki, Karnali, Narayani, Babai and Rapti rivers. Some challenges include industrial pollution, hunting and unsustainable fishing practices. The local bodies encourage the local communities for conserving and protecting of these creatures. The crocodile breeding centre contributes to this purpose in Bardiya and Chitwan National park.