Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baby gharial caught from Padma lands in Rajshahi Zoo

Friday, December 11, 2009

Young one of gharial, one of the most critically endangered crocodilians on the globe and a near extinct species in Bangladesh, was captured from River Padma in Rajshahi on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a new fishing cat was brought to the Rajshahi Zoo recently after Atghoria Upazila Nirbahi Officer rescued the animal that was caught and injured by villagers.

After fishermen netted the two and a half feet-long baby gharial from Gohomabona under Godagari upazila on Wednesday morning, local youths Arifuzzaman and Ismail took it and handed over to Rajshahi Zoo, said Forhad Uddin, veterinary surgeon of the zoo.

"It is too early to understand the baby gharial's gender. Male gharials have a knot on their snouts, and the knot develops in one year. It is being fed dead fishes as per food chart prescribed by Dhaka Zoo," he said.

The creature is feigning dead in human presence, and seldom wandering in water as it is kept in the cage of tortoise, said Nawshad Ali, a staff of the zoo.

With its long and slender snout and needle-sharp interlocking teeth, the gharial has dark spots and cross-stripes against a light grey background. Its eyes are green, frosted with black.

"Size of the gharial tells that it would not be more than a couple of months old. The recovery indicates that breeding adults of the fish-eating reptiles are still surviving in the wild. A similar gharial, also captured from Padma River in January 2004, was sent to a wildlife organisation in Cox's Bazar," said zoologist Dr Altaf Hossain, also a former vice chancellor of Rajshahi University (RU).

RU Zoology teacher ABM Mohsin wondered how these reptiles were surviving amidst massive sand-lifting, human disturbances, intense fishing, siltation and pollution.

"The recent accidental captures of gharials from the Padma suggest the river basin stretching from Godagari to Yusufpur in Rajshahi was virtually a breeding place for gharials that were regularly seen nesting on the banks till the early 90s," he said.

The gharial existed for 2,000 million years and is classified in its own taxonomic subfamily, Gavialis (Hindi word ghariyal or crocodile) gangeticus (of the Ganges River), say Internet sources.

Now it has been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book for endangered species headed for extinction. Rajshahi Zoo now has two grown up female gharials.

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