Beas Belt As Gharial Habitat: Implications

Beas Belt As Gharial Habitat: Implications

Question: Punjab Government has announced that it will make the Beas Belt a habitat of the Gharials. Discuss the implications of this recent move.

- Punjab Government has announced that the Beas Belt near Harike Patan is the habitat of Gharials

- This species is known as Gavialis gangeticus

- In the initial phase of this project, around 15 grahams will be released in Beas Belt in February-March 2016

- The World Wide Fund for Nature, an NGO near Karmowal village will be releasing the grahams under ample water bodies with sand banks

- Area will be suited for the development of this species as a natural habitat

- Gharials will be released depending upon how successful the initial phase is

About Gharial

- Gharial is the only surviving species of Gavialidae

- This is a fish eating crocodile

- It is native to the Indian sub-continent

- The IUCN lists them as critically endangered under criterion A2

Facts and Stats

- Water bodies in Harike Patan are the refuge of 15 dolphins including cat, fish and wild boars

- Creation of the belt as a habitat for Gharials will also help in developing tourism in the area

- Around the year 1976, estimated population of wild Gharials has fallen from 10,000 to 5,000 in the 1940s to less than 200, which is a fall of 96%

- Drastic fall in the Gharial population over the past 60 years can be traced to over hunting, egg collection for consumption, collection of body parts for indigenous medicine and destruction by fishermen

- Gharials have been brought under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
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