Re-introduction of Gharials

Crocodilians are survivors from the great reptilian age and are recognized as keystone species in their environment due to the role they play in maintaining the ecosystem.

The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), endemic to the Indian subcontinent, was once abundant and common with an estimated population of 5,000 to 10,000 in the 1940s. Since 1999, a sharp decline in gharial population has been recorded throughout its entire range. The total breeding population of gharials in the world is now estimated to be less than 200 individuals making it a “Critically Endangered” species (IUCN 2007). The species is listed as Schedule I under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

In collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, WWF-India started a gharial re-introduction programme at Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary. This photo essay documents one such gharial re-introduction into the River Ganga.