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Saltwater Crocodile

Context:   

Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), used to be found in Vietnam and southern China, became extinct in these areas due to human activity.

Relevance:

GS  III- Environment Pollution and Degradation

Dimension of the Article:
  1. About Saltwater Crocodile
  2. Other two Crocodile Species Found in India

About Saltwater Crocodile

  • The saltwater crocodiles, also known as the estuarine crocodile, are believed to be the largest crocodile species living on Earth.
  • In India, it inhabits Odishas Bhitarkanika National Park, the Sundarbans in West Bengal and the Andamans and Nicobar Islands.
  • They can also be found across Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
  • It is capable of prevailing over almost any animal that enters its territory and ambushes most of its prey and then drowns or swallows it as a whole.
  • Its reputation as a man-eater is one of the biggest reasons for its hunting and a threat to its existence.
Threats:
  • Habitat destruction,
  • Fragmentation, and transformation,
  • Fishing activities
  • Use of crocodile parts for medicinal purposes.
Conservation Status of Saltwater Crocodiles
  • IUCN List of Threatened Species: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix I (except the populations of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which are included in Appendix II).
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Other two Crocodile Species Found in India

Marsh Crocodile/Mugger
  • Restricted to the Indian subcontinent, Mugger or Marsh crocodiles are generally found in freshwater habitats including lakes, marshes and rivers. They may also be found in coastal saltwater lagoons and estuaries.
  • They are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  • They are also Listed in the Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • They are an egg-laying and hole-nesting species which preys on fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.
  • The main cause of their vulnerable status is habitat destruction, fragmentation, and transformation, fishing activities and use of crocodile parts for medicinal purposes.
  • This species of crocodile are already extinct in Myanmar and Bhutan. 
Gharial
  • The gharial, also known as the gavial is the longest of all living crocodilians and they have long and thin snouts which resemble an earthen pot (known as “Ghara” in Hindi”), and thus, are called gharial,
  • They are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. They are also Listed in the Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It currently inhabits rivers in the plains of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and the Chambal river in the northern slopes of the Vindhya mountains is known as the primary habitat of gharials.
  • The main causes of this decline include illegal sand mining, poaching, habitat destruction, floods and massive scale fishing operations.

-Source: Down to Earth

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