Name: the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of the longest of all living crocodile species.
Appearance: gharials are specialist fish eaters, with distinctively long, narrow snouts covered by interlocking teeth which they use to catch fish. Males have large bulges at the end of their snouts which look like pots known locally as ‘ghara‘ – giving them the name ‘gharial’.
Size: they can reach up to 6 metres long and weigh over 900 kg.
Diet: gharials are specialist fish eaters although young gharials also eat insects, tadpoles, and frogs.
Did you know: the oldest known depictions of gharials are around 4,000 years old and were found in the Indus Valley. Hindus regard them to be the vehicles of the river deity Ganga. While local people living near gharial rivers thought they had mystical and healing powers. Sadly, gharial numbers have collapsed dramatically and they are now Critically Endangered. Conservation programmes in India and Nepal have been working to reintroduce captive-bred gharials since the early 1980s although this incredible creature is still at high risk of extinction.
Location: gharials were once found in all of the major river systems in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Today the last populations cling on in India and Nepal, which is a gharial stronghold. Small populations are present and slowly recovering in tributaries of the Ganges, such as Bardia National Park and Chitwan National Park.
Where TO SEE Gharials
According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see gharials in the following places:
|Place||Chance to see||User rating||No. reports|
Photo credit: petrstehule under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay