Lucknow, October 7 The state government has issued a grant of Rs 15.77 lakh to the Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre (KGRC) for the conservation project of “critically endangered” ghariyals.
The state Forest department has also asked the Centre for a Rs 1.45-crore grant for the upgrade of the rehabilitation center, famous for captive breeding.
The step was taken following a survey undertaken by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). As per the survey, the Indian Ghariyal (Gavialis Gangeticus) is on the red list of critically endangered species this year.
The mature ghariyal population in India stands at less than 200. The estimated population of ghariyal is 1,976. However, the state officials said the IUCN figure might be representing the gharials in their natural habitat.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) D N S Suman said that the state will take special measures to protect the Ghariyal.
“It is a matter of concern that the IUCN has categorised the ghariyal as critically endangered species in the recent list, which was in the endangered category till now. We have been devising the plan for their conservation. Plan is being worked out where the state Forest department and the Madras Crocodile Bank will work together for the protection of the rare indigenous reptile,” he said.
Ramesh Pandey, Divisional Forest Officer of Katarnia Ghat (another natural habitat), said the ghariyal was losing congenial habitat threatening their existence. “The construction of various structures on rivers like dams, barrages and activities like sand mining has put pressure on their riverine habitat.”
Sources said the grant released by the state would be used for the upgrade of the rehabilitation centre. The KGRC would be upgraded in such a way that would provide as a favourable habitat for the breeding of ghariyals.
The tourism zone would clearly be separated from the breeding zone, as instructed by the Central Zoo Authority. The wildlife museum would be renovated and a new watchtower would be constructed for the tourists.
The state Forest department had started the Ghariyal Rehabilitation Project in 1975 at the behest of the Centre. Over the years, the KGRC kept the successful breeding and survival record of ghariyal over 90 per cent.
Deputy Forest Conservator (endangered species) Renu Singh said that the KGRC has released around 3,782 ghariyals in different rivers in the country. It has also gifted 288 ghariyals to various countries and organisations in cities like New York, Tokyo, Islamabad and Kabul.
Sources said the project started suffering when the Centre stopped the financial assistance in 1992-93 and the state government pulled its hands in 1998-99.