Male Gharial released at Rajshahi Zoo to create pair

13 Aug 2017, 18:29

Online Desk

Dhaka: As part of a Gharial exchange programme, an adult male Gharial was released at Rajshahi Zoo on Sunday morning bringing it from National Zoo (Dhaka) aiming to create pairs and thus boost the population of the critically endangered freshwater reptiles.

"The male Gharial that we brought it from Dhaka Zoo last night was released at Rajshahi Zoo around 9:30 am as there is no male Gharial in this zoo," principal Gharial investigator of IUCN Bangladesh ABM Sarowar Alam told UNB.

In the awake of rapid decline in Gharial population, Bangladesh Forest Department with support from IUCN Bangladesh has taken the Gharial exchange programme to exchange captive Gharials among the country's zoos.

On Saturday, a female Gharial was also released at the National Zoo (Dhaka) bringing it from Rajshahi Zoo under the exchange progamme. Before the release of the female Gharial in Dhaka Zoo, there was no pair of the captive Gharial in the country.

"Finally, after bringing a male Gharial from Dhaka Zoo, we've successfully released it at the breeding facility of Rajshahi Zoo, which means, we've successfully completed the exchange programme in the first phase," Sarowar said.

Now, he said, they hope the freshwater reptiles will breed and produce offspring. "This gives us encouragement to carry on our efforts to save our Gharials and hope to release them back to the wild."

In 2016, the IUCN Bangladesh and Bangladesh Forest Department jointly conducted a survey in Bangladesh National Zoo (Dhaka Zoo), Rajshahi Zoo, Rangpur Zoo and Bangabandhu Safari Park, Gazipur to ascertain the number and condition of captive Gharials in the country.

They survey found that four adult males rescued from fishermen's nets between 1983 and 1997 and had taken in Dhaka Zoo and those are now in healthy condition, but there is no female Gharial or any breeding facility in the zoo.

Three adult females were found in Rajshahi Zoo. The Gharial enclosure in Rajshahi Zoo is a circular one with a small island at the centre. Lack of gentle slope makes it difficult for Gharials to reach the island for basking.

Four adult females of the species are kept in Rangpur Zoo while its enclosure in the zoo was comparatively smaller than other zoos. The facilities for basking and nesting of Gharials were also poor.

Under the survey, only one juvenile male of 115 cm was found in Bangabandhu Safari Park, Gazipur. The husbandry condition in the Safari park seemed to very poor as well. The Gharial was kept in a small pond with more than a thousand of freshwater turtles.

Sarowar Alam said Gharials will also be exchanged among the National Zoo and Rangpur Zoo, and Rajshahi Zoo and Bangabandhu Safari Park so that they can make their pairs and facilitate breeding.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are only 200 Gharials in the wild across the world. It has been declared as a critically endangered species in Bangladesh in 2015.