Punjab releases 23 gharials in Beas

The Punjab government on Friday released 23 captive-bred gharials from Morena, Madhya Pradesh in the Beas Conservation Reserve.

The gharial reintroduction in the Beas Conservation Reserve is a key project of the government of Punjab which aims to establish a breeding population of critically endangered gharial in the rivers of the state.

Gursharan Singh, DFO (wildlife) Hoshiarpur, said a joint team of the wildlife division Hoshiarpur and WWF-India has been formed for daily monitoring of gharials for next one month. Gitanjali Kanwar, coordinator, WWF-India, said post release, monitoring is one of the vital aspects of the gharial reintroduction. The surveys will focus on understanding dispersal, habitat preference, population ecology and general wellbeing of the released gharials.

In the phase-1 of this project, 47 juvenile gharials were released in the Beas Conservation Reserve in batches during 2017-2018 in Amritsar and Tarn Taran district. Field surveys conducted, so far, jointly with WWF-India indicated that gharials have dispersed both upstream and downstream of the release sites in the Beas Conservation Reserve.

About 40-50% of the reintroduced gharials can be spotted in the Beas Conservation Reserve any time depending on the water levels and season of survey.

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