The Gharial Expedition-III - December 2009
The Gharial Expedition is a survey done along the Chambal River to document Gharial populations in one segment along the Rajasthan side of the National Chambal Sanctuary. Following a mass death of Gharials during the winter of 2007, an ‘expedition’ was launched by Tiger Watch [an NGO working in Ranthambhore].
The Chambal River is a tributary of the Yamuna River in central India. The river flows north-northeast through Madhya Pradesh, enters Rajasthan forming the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh before turning southeast to join the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. It is a perennial river and originates at Manpura
, south of Mhow
town, near Indore
, on the south slope of the Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh. The Chambal and its tributaries drain the Malwa
region of northwestern Madhya Pradesh, while its tributary the ‘Banas’, which rises in the Aravali Range, drains south-eastern Rajasthan.
The segment surveyed during the expedition is the first 100 kilometres from Pali heading downstream towards a village called Khirkan. The present expedition was the third of its kind after two previous surveys done in January 2008 and then in December 2008.
The first Gharial Expedition took place in January 2008. Documentation of high population areas, evident threats to the Gharial, human interference and also a checklist of all other fauna in the study area formed a part of the expedition. The expedition ended with a total count of 82 Gharials.
The second Gharial expedition took place in December 2008. The team surveyed the same stretch of the river [approximately 100km] and recorded Gharial numbers. This time, importance was given to documentation of habitat destruction and quantification of the threats.
The expedition ended with a total count of 124 Gharials, including ONE DEAD SPECIMEN.
The dead Gharial – caught in a fish net – was the first death reported from the Rajasthan side of the river.
The Current Expedition:
A six member team surveyed the specific stretch of 100 kilometers over 11 days in December 2009. The documentation involved Gharial and Mugger numbers, quantification of threats, assessing land use patterns along the banks, recording the flora of the area and gathering the socio-economic status of the villages along the Rajasthan bank.
The expedition ended with a total count of 122 gharials, 103 Muggers and one dead Mugger.
The data from three such expeditions conducted over three years showed the following trends: