Lucknow: Mukhdumpur stretch to get 100 gharials

As many as 100 gharials currently being bred in the Kukrail Breeding Centre in Lucknow will be released in the Mukhdumpur stretch of Meerut district later this year.

The decision was taken by the state forest department after the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) assessed the Mukhdumpur stretch and termed it as a ‘favourable’ habitat for the reptile.

“We will release them during winters as it is the most suitable time for them to adapt to the new surroundings. The water level is less during winters and it helps the gharials get used to the habitat,” said Eva Sharma, Director, Endangered Species, UP forest department.

According to WWF-India’s assessment, the Mukhdumpur stretch in Meerut district was found to be most suitable for the rehabilitation of gharials.

It has favourable water quality, three sand banks, shallow water, deep pool, fast water current and presence of shelter in the form of shoreline vegetation.

The favourable habitat along Mukhdumpur stretches to about 6 km till Jalalpur Johara.

Of the total 291 gharials to be released this year, 75 are from Chambal while the rest are from Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.

“The gharial eggs were brought in from Katerniaghat area in 2008 after floods had caused havoc in the area. The eggs from Chambal were brought in following reports of mass deaths from the area,” said Sharma, while adding that the department plans to release the gharials in Gerua and Ghaghra rivers as well.

To monitor the movement of the gharials after they are released, WWF-India boats will be used to record the ocular sighting when the gharials bask in the sun. Also, the daily count of the sightings will be recorded.

Earlier, 131 gharials were released in the area in 2008. In 2009, the figure stood at 69. “Through workshops, we will also create awareness in the community as their support is essential for conservation of gharials,” said Sharma.

From Indian Express

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