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Monsoon Magic At Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

  Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. Many of them returned disappointed as there was no tiger sighting while  asmall number of visitors was still lucky to have some wonderful “chanced sighting “of the big cat. Like the one in Tala range. Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. as she took mud bath for a while amd also quenched thirst before proceeding to meet her four 5-month old cubs hidden in a cave deep in the jungle. Rare tiger sighting happens during the monsoon when plenty of water is available in every nook and corner of the jungle and the green forest cover revives after a few showers diminishing the chances of tiger sighting even if it is sitting very close in the bushes.But the showers have left a magical touch in the jungle. Jungle Make Over   After the pre-monsoon showers, the 

Endangered Chambal Gharials Find New Home in Kuno

Gharial, Gavialis Gangeticus, Chambal river, Upstream, National Chambal Gharial, Wildlife Sanctuary in Morena, Wildlife, The wildlife india,
Gharial (Gavialis Gangeticus) has found a new home in Kuno, a tributary of Chambal river in the upstream. Over a year after a female gharial showed way to a safe haven to it's threatened reptile species, 25 gharials were released in the river , the lifeline of Kuno Palpur national park. Continued to be threatened by the illegal sand mining in National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary in Morena, the forest department decided to introduce the reptiles in the river.  Five males gharials and 20 female-reptiles were released, said the divisional forest officer of Kuno wildlife division PK Verma .Besides, threatened  chambal turtles were also released.

Are Gharials Threatened by Illegal Mining in Chambal?

Gharial, Gavialis Gangeticus, Chambal river, Upstream, National Chambal Gharial, Wildlife Sanctuary in Morena, Wildlife, The wildlife india,
One of the six  female gharials, who was radio tagged  in 2017  swam over 40 kms upstream last year for nesting in Kuno sand-bed. The scientist studying the reptile behavior  revealed to the authorities about the  female reptile’s journey leading to the discovery  of the new habitat. This first ever known case of gharial migration last year showed that now these reptiles are also running away from the menacing human presence in their  habitat around Chambal river. The five remaining  radio tagged gharials  were also found later nesting in Kuno.  Rampant sand mining has threatened this endangered animal and believed to have been one of the major reasons to force the females to migrate. Kuno flows through the Kuno Palpur national Park in Sheopur district of MP, awaiting a pair of lions for two decades for translocation from Gir.  The river flows from south to north in the park draining the other rivulets and tributaries into Chambal in Morena, at MP-Rajasthan border. About 180 km long , it originates from the Shivpuri plateau and passes through districts of Shivpuri, Sheopur and Morena.

 Also read: Problem of Plenty: Gir Lions Turn Scavengers AsDeadly Virus Stares

The gharials which chose to lay eggs on the quiet banks of the Kuno River were radio -tagged in 2017 by the scientists of Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology (MCBTCH) under telemetry research to learn more on their movements and nesting. Jailabdeen ,  the scientist  studying the gharials said, “During research, we have found that a female gharial went to Kuno but didn’t return. When we traced, the gharial  was found along with it's nest in Kuno . Besides sand mining the rising population of gharials in Chambal may also be the reason for the dispersal of the reptile.”  But statistics suggest the gharial population in Chambal River had declined to 1,255 in 2017 from close to 1,800 in 2015. For the 2019 census, the department decided to include Parwati River also, and therefore, the number of gharials in Chambal river basin increased to 1,681.

The illegal mining disturbs the gharials’ nesting sites as large numbers of heavy machines are deployed to dig out sand from the river banks in Chambal and Bhind districts . Besides, transportation of the mineral by trucks and dumpers creates chaos on the river banks almost 24X7 all around the year . “The colonies and pools of gharials are being destroyed by the illegal sand mining. The gharials are not finding safe sandbanks to lay eggs  and that might be the major reason why they might be moving up to  Kuno and Parwati,” officials said seeking anonymity.  There has been a decline in the number of wildlife tourists  in the Chambal sanctuary. Wildlife photographers are disappointed because of less sightings .According to South Asia Network on Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP), Madhya Pradesh has emerged at third place in illegal sand mining activities with 16,405 cases in 2018-19, most of the cases were from Chambal and Narmada river basins. Unable to control the illegal sand mining, the government is also mulling over denotifying some of the banks  to make the mining a legal affair.  It seems, when the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a crackdown on mafia in the state, the sand mafia doesn’t seem to fit in his scheme.

Shrinking Habitat of Gharial Has Threatened the Reptile

Gharial, Gavialis Gangeticus, Chambal river, Upstream, National Chambal Gharial, Wildlife Sanctuary in Morena, Wildlife, The wildlife india,
Experts said that this reptile is  “not well-suited for land. And they only leave water either to bask in the sun or to nest in the sand on the river banks.” There was a time when  the reptiles used to  be found  in a vast area stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar but now  their range has shrunk to two countries: India and Nepal. They are found along the Chambal in MP ,UP and Rajasthan and Son  river in Sidhi  district of MP and along the Narayani River in Nepal.  Like Chambal, illegal sand mining has disturbed the reptile in Son too.  Their name gharial seems to have been derived from  the word ‘ghara’  (  earthen pot) . Male gharials sport a large   ‘ghara’ like  growth over their snout .They use their ‘gharas’ to vocalize and blow bubbles during mating displays, experts said. This fish eating  reptile does not lunge or attack like their cousin- the crocodile. The reptiles congregate to mate and make nests during the dry season, when females lay eggs in the sandbanks along slow-moving sections of water.  During one such exercise, the female gharial of Chambal had travelled over 40kms  and reached  Kuno river for safe nesting and a new home.


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