Numerous Gharials Found Dead in India - Crocodilian Species Critically Endangered
Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus,) or their correct name, 'crocodilians' are large crocodile-like reptiles from the Cretaceous Period and are the closest living relatives to birds.
Over the past month or so, numerous crocodilians have been found dead in the Chambal River in India. Officials say that they doubt the cause was poisoning, since nothing else has been found dead in the river.
Crocodilians and birds are the only known survivors of Archosaurs (Greek for 'ruling lizards.') In this day and age, how can we as a sentient race, let such an evolutionary tragedy happen? These giant reptiles have managed to stay at the top of the food chain, managing to survive for millions of years and then something we do - the human race does, simply kills them off.
The Indian government funded a conservation project back in 1986, releasing five hundred of the prehistoric looking beasts into the wild - but reports have indicated that only a few have survived.
The gharials had been taken from a zoo and released into the river in the hopes that they would be able to adapt to their new environment. However today, there are less than fifteen hundred of them left, most of them native to the Chambal River.
Possible causes of the cirrhosis are being suggested left, right and center:
State Chief Wildlife Warden D.N.S. Suman said; "The deaths of such a large number of gharials is not common. There has to be something wrong with the river water."
With no injuries found on the behemoths, (some reaching 20 feet!) scientists are leaning towards the belief that it could be contamination of the water or the fish - the gharials main food. Water testing for liver-damaging toxins will soon confirm or deny this avenue of research.
Other experts believe that the crocodilians just couldn't deal with the change in habitat when leaving the zoo.
My response to each of those 'possible' causes, is: "Duhhh."
While one or more of these reasons is probably the cause of the life-sapping cirrhosis of the gharials, this writer agrees with those that believe the major cause, is probably the industrial outpourings in the area.
Well done humankind.