Biodiversity Fauna Reptiles

A reptile, Native to Pakistan: The Gavial

Written by Rafia Hassan

Once I visited the Lahore zoo, that time I had never seen a crocodile live, but there I saw a long snouted crocodile in a pond. I was astonished, “Oh, this crocodile is so large”, but my father told me that it is not a crocodile, it is “Gharial (Gavial)” and it belongs to the Crocodilian species. It is interesting to know that this animal founds only on Indus River Pakistan across the Gangetic Floodplain to the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar so it is also called “Indian Gavial”.

Gavial(Gavialis gangeticus) belongs to the family Gavialidae, is a long and narrow snouted animal having size 13ft to 19.7ft , the largest one is of 30ft. They live usually 40 to 60 years. An olive/grey color animal looks horrible but it is not known to attack humans, but people are advised to stay away from them because it is huge animal having weight up to 450 kgs and big jaws with sharp teeth, 54-58 teeth on upper jaw and 50-52 teeth on lower jaw. Fishes are most favorite food for gavials but the small gavials also feed on carrions.

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As mentioned above, it is native to Pakistan, and usually found on the banks of River Indus, we can say that it’s the property of Pakistan but Alas, this property of our country is going towards extinction. Gavial has included in highly endangered species of Pakistan. Only 2% of this animal exists now as compared to its population many years ago. In Lahore zoo, there is only two female Gavial but no male Gavial. In 2004, some animals were exchanged between Lahore and Karachi zoo, and a male gavial was transported from Karachi to Lahore. But it was found dead after one day, so now Lahore zoo has two female gavials.

There is a high demand of gavials from private zoo and safari parks because of its beautiful skin and attractive appearance, said by an officer from wildlife department Sindh, but now they have not found any gavial from Nara and Jamrao Canal. This unique reptile is on the brink of extinction because of human predators and smugglers. Government should take steps to save this reptile by protecting it from hunters and smugglers. Wild life departments should have rights to punish hunters. There is also a need to avoid such activities which are not suitable for the survival of this unique reptile.

 

References:

  • http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/gavial.aspx
  • http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/gavial.html
  • http://www.wildlifeofpakistan.com/ReptilesofPakistan/gharial.htm
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gharial

 

 

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Rafia Hassan