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Gharial Crocodile

SAVE THEM ALL: While rafting on the Karnali River in Nepal, I was thrilled to come across this Gharial crocodile basking on a sandbank. Shy, retiring, and critically endangered, it is less mobile on land than the Nile crocodile of Africa and the saltwater crocs of Australia, and it is harmless to humans, its long, narrow snout incapable of taking large prey. It sups instead on fish, insects, and amphibians. During the 1970s, conservation groups made concerted efforts to save the species, establishing hatcheries, incubating eggs, and releasing the young into major river systems in the subcontinent, but the efforts met with failure as overfishing, pollution, dam construction, and loss of habitat took their toll. A 2008 survey found only 81 crocs in Nepal’s great rivers. In February, 2009, the Gharial Crocodile Alliance reported that the WWF had attached radio-transmitters to the scutes (or tail appendages) of 14 gharials in order to diagnose the causes of their decline. Meanwhile, the Bergen Aquarium of Norway has donated $10,000 to faciliatate the GCA’s field projects.
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