Punjab Government on 28 July 2015 announced that it is trying to make Beas Belt, near Harike Patan as a habitat of Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus). For this purpose, in initial phase 15 Gharials will be released in the Beas belt in February-March 2016.
The Gharials will be released in the area by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWFN), an NGO near Karmowal village which has ample water bodies with sand banks. Thus, the area will be suitable for being developed as habitat for the species.
Further, more Gharials will be released in the area depending upon the success of the initial phase.
The water bodies in Harike Patan are a house for 15 dolphins, variety of Wild Boars, Cat and Fish. This creation of the belt as habitat for Gharials will also help in boosting tourism in the area.
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
• Gharial also known as Gavial is the last surviving species of the family Gavialidae.
• It is a fish-eating crocodile and a native to the Indian sub-continent.
• They are listed as Critically Endangered under criterion A2 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
• By 1976, the estimated total population of wild Gharial in the world had declined from what is thought to have been 5000 to 10000 in the 1940s to less than 200 (Whitaker et al. 1974), a decline of about 96 percent.
• The drastic decline in the Gharial population over the last 60 years (three generations for the gharial) can be attributed to a variety of causes including over-hunting for skins and trophies, egg collection for consumption, killing for indigenous medicine, and killing by fishermen.
• The Government of India has accorded the highest level of protection to Gharial by bringing it under Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.
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Who: Punjab Government