Tilak Rimal, The Himalayan Times, 27 December 2018
CHITWAN: The Chitwan National Park reports a 32 per cent surge in number of Gharials in waters of Narayani and Rapti rivers over a two-year period from 2016 to 2018.
As per the official statistics, 34 unaccounted Gharials were found dwelling in Rapti River while 19 new bred crocodilians inhabited Narayani River. With this, the total number of predatory semi aquatic reptilians living in both the rivers has jumped to 219 from 166 in 2016.
The number of Gharials in Rapti has increased by 40 per cent while Narayani River has witnessed a growth of 23 per cent in the number of inhabiting crocodilians, according to CNP Chief Conservation Officer Bed Kumar Dhakal.
However, the recent figures do not add up to the conservation efforts put by the Crocodile Breeding Centre in Chitwan.
Every year, the centre releases large numbers of new bred crocodiles in the rivers. But at the time of census, the number shrinks to bare minimum. Although the centre has turned loose 685 semi aquatic reptilians in Rapti River and 399 in Narayani River till date, the current number of crocodilians dwelling in those waters do not justify the conservation efforts.
On part, officials at the CNP clarified that the slender-nosed crocodiles bred and released by the centre, swim to India in search of prey never to return as Gandak Barrage situated at the Nepal-India border bars their re-entry.
Moreover, crocodile conservation has become a daunting task of late as the aquatic predators face threats from pollution and unsustainable mining practices and increasing human encroachment of their habitat, the conservation officer informed.