CHENNAI: During the Covid-enforced lockdown, a Gharial or fish-eating crocodile had 23 offsprings at the Guindy Snake Park recently, after mating with a sibling. What is significant is that this is the first Gharial birth here after almost three decades. The Gharial laid eggs in March and the incubation period was about 2-2.5 months.
The critically endangered reptiles is found in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India. “The species are so threatened that there are more Gharials in captivity than in the wild,” said SR Ganesh, a senior herpetologist at the park.
In 1993, a few pairs were brought to the Guindy Snake Park from Nandankanan Zoological Park in Odisha. “Despite breeding several times, there were no successful hatches,” said Ganesh explaining this could have been a result of inbreeding depression.
Inbreeding depression is the reduced biological fitness in a given population as a result of breeding of related individuals, in this case siblings. The Gharials are freshwater animals and exclusively feed on fish. People enter rivers to catch fish and this threatens their habitat. “There are many conservation breeding centres but we are short of potential release sites. Having such sites is extremely crucial for population regeneration. Gharials need perennial rivers,” said Ganesh,
Indian Rock Python
Meanwhile, eggs of an Indian Rock Python also hatched on Monday. The park has a total of five adults and nine hatchlings. The eggs hatched after an incubation of about 60-70 days, said R Rajarathinam, the director of the park. “The baby pythons will be accommodated in a new enclosure being built at a cost of Rs 15 lakh, said S Paulraj, the executive chairman of the Chennai Snake Park Trust.
Will the animals starve?
Ganesh said while the hatching was a happy event, he fears that feeding them is getting increasingly harder as the park is shut for visitors. “The primary revenue comes from ticket collection. Since we have no visitors, it has been very difficult to feed the animals,” he said. Animal lovers and reptile enthusiasts who wish to donate can visit https://chennaisnakepark.org/donate.
Injured leopard dies
Chennai: A six-year-old male leopard that was rescued by the Nilgiris Forest Division recently succumbed at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park on Friday. The animal, which was rescued on May 16, was having difficulty walking and showed symptoms of nervous issues and head injuries. This leopard was transported on June 5 with a guarded prognosis.
The leopard was found to be exhibiting partial blindness, suffering with CNS lesions and there was delay in posturalreflexes, a release said. Experts from the Wildlife Department of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, senior wildlife veterinarians were consulted. The animal passed at 5.30 pm on July 30. Post-mortem results revealed multiple organ failure.