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GBR Press: Gharials return to Chambal

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Thu Jul 14 09:08:36 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

THE GUARDIAN (London, UK) 07 July 11 Gharials return to banks of the Chambal - Sharp-toothed crocodilians a welcome sight for local residents, especially since they only eat fish (Georgina Kenyon)
We realised how lucky we were to see one of the remaining gharials in the Chambal river in Uttar Pradesh in northern India: they are now only found here and in Nepal, there being just 200 adult breeding pairs left in the wild. I could just see the characteristic tremendous bulbous knob on the end of the male gharial's long fine snout, as he glided past in the fast river.
My friend David has a real empathy for these reptiles.
"Do you know that they get gout too!" he says, amazed, as he nurses his sore foot and winces in pain, while we read a report about the mysterious deaths ‚Äď seemingly from gout ‚Äď of many of these reptiles. We wonder if the sick gharials also suffered from incredibly sore joints like humans experience from the disease, a form of arthritis.
Over four years ago, more than 20 gharials were found dead on the Chambal. They seemed to have been poisoned ‚Äď dying from kidney failure and gout from eating contaminated fish from polluted rivers. "What a horrible death! Poor gharials," sympathises David, as we imagine the sick reptiles suffering.
But a few weeks later we hear some welcome news. The new breeding centre further up river, in the Sheopur district, is proving a success. More than 1,000 baby gharials from more than 40 mothers have hatched in the last month. On the drive back on the bus we talk to a few locals who are very excited about the gharial babies. One young boy tells me thousands have been born; a young woman tells me that there are tens of thousands.
"You have to see the babies diving in the water," urged one boy. The small crocodilians have become local celebrities. Families are now taking picnics on the river at weekends to see the gharials play and feed.
I read reports about the gharials in the local paper. The rangers have begun a public relations drive to protect the young reptiles, explaining that they are harmless to people and that they only ever eat fish.
They have never eaten a person or even a dog, says the owner of the guesthouse on my last day. "They are nice animals ‚Äď they would rather go hungry," he adds, nodding wisely.
I just hope the gharials will grow to adulthood and continue to thrive.
Gharials return to banks of the Chambal


   

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  • You Are HereGBR Press: Gharials return to Chambal - W von Papinešu, Thu Jul 14 09:08:36 2011

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