Short Note on Project Crocodile

Crocodile is top predator of aquatic ecosystem and helps in maintaining population of fishes and other living organisms present in water bodies. In India, following crocodile species have been observed, but all species are on verge of extinction:

  1. Gharial – This is freshwater crocodile which is now critically endangered. Pollution of river is the reason behind decline in number of this species.
  2. Mugger – This is also freshwater crocodile which is vulnerable in India. Construction of dams on rivers has resulted in sharp decline of this species.
  3. Salt water crocodile – This crocodile used to be very common in coastal areas of Kerala and Tamil Nadu but now it is extinct in these states. Destruction of mangrove vegetation for development of coastal region result in decline of this species. Few members of this species are found in West Bengal and Odisha.

H.R. Bustard had initiated crocodile survey in 1974 which clearly reflected sharp decline in their number. Project crocodile scheme was launched in 1975 to increase population of crocodile species. This scheme was launched by Government of India with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and FAO. Many crocodile sanctuary like National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh) have been established as in-situ conservation strategy for protection of crocodile in natural habitat. Sixteen crocodile rehabilitation centres have been established in India for breeding and rearing programmes.

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