35 more baby crocodiles born in Mahanadi

PCCF Wildlife Susanta Nanda said this is the fourth time gharials are naturally breeding in Satkosia gorge.
Mahanadi is the southernmost limit of gharials in India.
Mahanadi is the southernmost limit of gharials in India.

BHUBANESWAR: In yet another push to gharial conservation in Mahanadi, 35 baby crocodiles have taken birth in the fresh waters of Satkosia gorge this year, making it the fourth successful natural breeding of the endangered species in the river system in a row.

PCCF Wildlife Susanta Nanda said this is the fourth time gharials are naturally breeding in Satkosia gorge. The breeding of gharials was witnessed first in the recent times in 2021 after a gap of nearly 40 years.

He said, Mahanadi is the southernmost limit of gharials in India. It was on the verge of getting locally extinct until the ‘Gharial Species Recovery’ programme was launched in the river.

In the first phase of the gharial species recovery programme, around 20 gharials were reintroduced to the fresh waters of the river near Tikarpada in 2019. Around 28 hatchlings were found in a nest in Baladamara area of the river within Satkosia gorge sanctuary in May 2021 after a gap of nearly four decades. Another 30 baby crocodiles took birth at the same site in 2022 and 35 in 2023.

In the midst of challenges of low survival rate of the hatchlings, the Forest department has found two hatchlings each from the breeding season of 2021, 2022 and eight from the breeding in 2023 in the river.

A senior forest official from Satkosia said natural breeding of gharials in Mahanadi is one of the most successful projects of conserving the fish -eating crocodile in the country.

Apart from declaring the surroundings of the nesting site in Satkosia gorge a no fishing zone and imposing ban on all kinds of fishing activities, fencing has also been done along the river banks to protect the area, while fishermen community from villages near Mahanadi has also been involved in the project for effective conservation, he said.

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