Trisha Shetty

Crocodiles in India

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Crocodiles in India

Crocodiles share an ancient relation with India. They are depicted along with many Hindu gods and goddesses in sculpture and painting. In the pre-historic period, seven species resided in India. The number has decreased to three primary species: the Mugger (or marsh) crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), gharial and the estuarine (coast) crocodile (C. porosus). In India, their habitat includes lakes and rivers. Saltwater crocodiles are found on the eastern coast of the country and the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

Contents

The Mugger crocodile

The Mugger crocodile is India's most common species. They are not as long as saltwater crocodiles. Their average size is about 13–14 feet. Until the British colonised India, crocodiles were never critically endangered. Afterwards, an Indian-British biologist named Romulas Whittaker established the Madras crocodile bank for conservation and breeding of crocodiles. Now, there are thousands of crocodiles in Madras crocodile bank alone. Although, in rest of India, one can still see crocodiles in wild - in rivers and national parks. Even today, there is a huge lack of information about these species because of taboos and folklore associated with crocodiles.

Habitat and distribution

The Mugger crocodiles are found throughout India in almost all rivers. The largest wild specimen is 19.5 feet which was found in the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in the River Girwa.

The Gharial is the rarest species. Only four were left in 1975 when Whittaker started a breeding programme of Gharials. Their population has increased to about 1000. Earlier, they were found in rivers from Japan to Spain. They are now limited to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Habitat and distribution

The Gharials are found in only some rivers of India which include:

  • Chambal
  • Girwa
  • Ganges
  • Yamuna
  • Kali
  • Kosi
  • Gandak
  • Saltwater crocodiles are found in the eastern states of Odisha, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The largest specimen is in Odisha and reached 7mt (23 ft). The population numbers about 300.

    Habitat and distribution

    The salt-water crocodiles live in Bhittarkanika mangroves, Sunderban mangroves, Pichavaram mangroves, Mahanadi delta, Godavari delta, Krishna delta and in the swamplands in Odisha and West Bengal (including rivers).

    Human intervention

    Crocodile farms are used mainly for conservation & breeding programs.

    References

    Crocodiles in India Wikipedia


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