Nesting of the Critically Endangered gharial Gavialis gangeticus in Bardia National Park, Nepal

Abstract

The gharial Gavialis gangeticus is a Critically Endangered crocodilian currently known from only 14 disjunct locations in Nepal and India. The protected stretch of the Babai River in Bardia National Park, Nepal, is home to one of the six subpopulations of gharials that have exhibited recent evidence of reproduction. However, there is limited information available on the gharial population in this region. We conducted surveys during the breeding, nesting and hatching seasons of gharials during 2020-2022 to study the gharial population in the Babai River in Bardia National Park. We located one breeding group of gharials in Soth Khola (2-3 individuals) and one in Dhanuse (5-6 individuals), and we observed pre-mating or mating behaviours in all 3 years. We identified potential nesting areas on sand banks of 19-175 m in length. During nesting seasons we found abundant signs of nesting only in Dhanuse, including entry and exit trails of female gharials to and from the water and trial nests. In 2020 and 2021 we did not find any signs of hatching, probably because of flooding. In 2022 we recorded two gharial nests, producing c. 60 hatchlings, in Dhanuse. Our findings indicate that the gharial population in the Babai River is probably nesting annually. We recommend various conservation actions for this gharial population.

Description

Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Fauna & Flora International. cc-by-nc-nd

Keywords

Babai River, Bardia National Park, Gavialis gangeticus, gharial, hatchlings, Nepal, nest, sandbank

Citation

Bashyal, A., Shrestha, N., Thapa, R., Shrestha, S., Sanjel, M., Densmore, L.D., & Khadka, B.. 2024. Nesting of the Critically Endangered gharial Gavialis gangeticus in Bardia National Park, Nepal. ORYX. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605324000103

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