The Gharial, an Endangered Crocodile
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The Gharial, an Endangered Crocodile

There are only around 400 Gharials left in the world; they are critically endangered. Unless drastic measures are taken, it is highly probable that the Gharial will be extinct in the next 10-20 years.

The Gharial is one of three crocodiles that live in India. They are only found in India and Nepal. Unfortunately, there are only around 400 Gharials left in the world; they are critically endangered. Unless drastic measures are taken, it is highly probable that the Gharial will be extinct in the next 10-20 years.

Gharials are unique looking crocodiles. Before the 1930s, they were larger than they are today; most were over 20 feet long. Today, Gharials usually only reach lengths of 12-15 feet and weigh around 1000 pounds. Scientists believe that the Gharials decreased in size is due to the serious reduction of their habitats; humans have destroyed about 98% of it.

Gharials have very long snouts; usually reaching around three and a half feet in length. However, in comparison to other crocodiles, their jaws are very weak. Adult males develop a knob on the end of their snouts; this knob emits a sound to scare off rival males. Their teeth are needle-like. Their skin is an olive-grey colour with a pale yellow underbelly. Their legs are short and stubby, making them awkward on land.

Like most reptiles, Gharials are carnivores. As their jaws are so weak, they are not able to eat many of the things other crocodiles eat. Fish are the Gharials main food, but they will also eat snakes, frogs, shrimp, crabs, small mammals and carrion. As Gharials are apex predators, they have very few predators; their premiere predator being humans. Humans hunt them for their skins, meat and organs, and also steal their eggs. Gharials have also be killed as they were perceived as a threat to humans. Although a Gharial could hurt a person, their jaws are simply too weak to kill or eat a human.

In an attempt to save this unique lizard from extinction, conservation areas have been set up so they can be better protected from hunters. There are three Gharial conservation areas in India and two in Nepal. In 1974, there was an estimated 40-50 Gharials left in the world. Through these conservation areas and the dedicated efforts of a few caring people, the Ghairal population has doubled since 2006. There are also some Gharials in zoos and breeding them has been attempted; this has had some success. Hopefully, the efforts of the dedicated people who are attempting to save the Gharial from extinction will not be wasted. The species teeters on a very precarious ledge and could easily join the ranks of Earth’s extinct animals.

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Comments (1)

These are intriguing 'gators

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