Gharial’ Crocodiles Discovered in the Sutlej River

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The Punjab Wildlife Department has uncovered evidence of the presence of the endangered gharial (gavial) crocodile species in the River Sutlej.

A survey team, in June 2023, reported the existence of approximately 10 gharials, including six baby crocodiles, residing in the Ganda Singhwala area of the river.

The revelation follows a viral online video featuring a gharial. Officials from the department, along with teams of researchers and the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation, conducted a thorough examination of the river. They collaborated with residents, fishermen and Punjab Rangers to track footprints and gather additional evidence of presence of the species.

The survey team included the in-charge of the Punjab Wildlife Research Centre in Gutwala, Wildlife Department Deputy Directors Dr Misbah Sarwar and Tanvir Ahmed Janjua, Veterinary Officer Dr M Rizwan, Lahore Zoo Deputy Director Zoo Kiran Salim and representatives from the WWF and the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation.

Based on an extensive survey and the collection of evidence, the team concluded that the Ganda Singhwala area is home to nearly 10 gharials. Notably, the team observed a gharial measuring approximately 14 feet in length and two feet in width.

Following the observations, the committee recommended to the Punjab Wildlife Department director general that the area be promptly declared a wildlife sanctuary, owing to its favorable conditions and the presence of the species.

Experts note that there has been no such report in Pakistan since 1980.

It is speculated that the crocodiles may have migrated from India following last year’s floods and have since begun reproducing. Gharials primarily feed on fish and pose no harm to humans, according to experts.

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