Conservation status

In Nepal, Gavialis populations are in decline, and fewer than 1% of all gharials hatched in nature reach a length of 6.6 ft (2 m). Egg loss by animal and human predators is high, and flooding causes significant loss of nests. A total of 55 wild gharial and 50 released gharials were observed in 1999 at Babai, Kali, Karnali, Koshi, Mahakali, Narayani, and Rapti River systems. The low number of males in the wild population (sex ratio one male to 10 females) may be adversely affecting the population. Reasons for decline are habitat destruction due to increasing human pressure on the environment from extensive agriculture, firewood collection, and cattle grazing.

In Bangladesh, Gavialis was believed to be extinct in the 1970s, but continued survival of the species was confirmed in the Padma (Ganges) and Jamuna (Brahmaputra) Rivers in 1981. A survey in 1985 recorded 18 individuals in the Padma River at Changhat, Charkhidipur, and Godagari localities. However, known nesting areas that produced up to 12 nests as recently as 1985 have seen no nests since 1990. Factors affecting declining gharial populations are fishing activities and habitat degradation.

In Bhutan, the species is near extinction in the wild, with isolated individuals reported from rivers near Bhutan's southern border with India.

In Pakistan, gharials have been extirpated from most of the country, with the main population of about 20 individuals oc-curing on the Nara Canal, part of the Indus River Dolphin Sanctuary. Small populations are believed to survive around Gudder Barrage (Sind) and Taunsa Barrage (Punjab). The Pakistan government is currently planning a restocking effort, perhaps using surplus captive stock from India.

In the Orissa state in India, Gavialis is now restricted to the Mahanadi River. Over 700 juvenile gharial have been released in the Satkoshia Gorge Sanctuary, but survival has been only 5% due to heavy human usage of the river for bamboo rafting and fishing. In the tristate National Chambal Sanctuary, encompassing the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, over 1,200 wild gharial were counted in recent surveys. Over 3,500 captive-reared gharial from wild eggs have been released in protected areas of these states, and several other small but vital breeding populations survive on the Girwa, Ken, and Son Rivers.

The gharial is cited as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and is on Appendix I of CITES. There are an estimated 1,500-2,500 gharials in the wild.

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