Nepalese crocodiles head for Bhutan
The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of the largest living crocodilians, and also one of the most endangered. The species is restricted to northern parts of the Indian sub-continent, where it inhabits deep, fast-flowing rivers.
Pressure from hunting drove the gharial crocodile nearly to extinction by the 1970s. However, populations have increased over the past 30 years, largely because of conservation programmes which have included captive breeding programmes.
The species remains threatened by habitat loss due to human encroachment. In addition, the animals are sometimes snared and killed in fishing nets, and suffer from a general decline in fish stocks. On top of this, eggs are collected for medicinal purposes, and males are still hunted for the aphrodisiac properties associated with the snout.
The two reptiles bound for the Bhutan were bred and reared at Kashara Gharial Breeding Centre in Royal Chitwan National Park, which has been very successful in breeding the species. The crocodiles were handed over by Nepal's Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Mr Chandi Prasad Shrestha, to the Honorable Dasho Sangay Thinlay, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture of the Royal Government of Bhutan, amid a function held in Kathmandu.
This is the first such cooperation for the conservation of endangered species of wildlife between Nepal and Bhutan. As both countries fall in the Eastern Himalayan Ecoregion, they both have a similar approach for biodiversity conservation, including landscape level conservation.
WWF-Bhutan and WWF-Nepal have been working together for the past two years to facilitate and promote ecoregion conservation in the two countries.
"The exchange of gharials is a gesture of good friendship between Nepal and Bhutan,"says Dr Chandra P Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal.
For further information:
Sangita Shrestha Singh
Communication Officer, WWF-Nepal
Tel: +977 1 4434820
Assistant Communication Officer, WWF-Bhutan