Gharial population drops in Satkosia, forest dept on toes to save species from extinction

Angul: Sharp decline in the Gharial (fish-eating crocodile) population at Satkosia gorge near Tikarpada area has raised serious concerns among the environmentalists and forest department. Blame it on overfishing, water pollution or lack of proper supervision, reports claimed that only four Gharials are present in the reserve.

Finally, officials of the forest department have decided to initiate measures to prevent the extinction of the endangered species.

According to sources, prior to the arrival of monsoon in Odisha, five Keto Gharials from Nandankanan would be released in the lake for successful breeding of the animals. Further, the officials are likely to impose a ban on fishing.

Though the idea gained positive response from the locals, the Satkosia fishermen community have demanded alternate measures for them before imposing fishing ban in the lake.

“It’s a very good initiative by the government. After releasing new species, care should be taken by the department for the protection of the species,” said a local, Binod Kumar Samal.

“We don’t agree that overfishing is the reason for decline of Gharial population. Steps should be taken to ensure that livelihood of the fishermen community is not affected,” said Advisor of Satkosia Fishermen Community, Manas Pal.

On the other hand, environmentalists are of the opinion that the existence of muggers and gharials together could be the reason for Gharial extinction.

“Without finding the reasons that leads to decline of Gharial, nothing can be achieved only by releasing animals,” said environmentalist Swapna Sarangi.

“It’s necessary to study the problems in the ecosystem that affect the survival of the animals. Initially, a few would be released and monitoring will be done to identify the problems that prevents their growth,” said Angul Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Pradeep Raj Karat.