Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
Most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world, a specialized, river-dwelling, fish-eater.
Habitat – Clean rivers with sand banks.
Distribution – Only viable population in the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across
three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India.
Small non-breeding populations exist in Son, Gandak, Hoogly and Ghagra rivers. Now
extinct in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Threats – The combined effects of dams, barrages, artificial embankments, change in
river course, pollution (not only endanger taxa but also use of their water for human
consumption), sand mining, riparian agriculture and ingress of domestic and feral
livestock caused irreversible loss of riverine habitat and consequently of the gharial.
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Heavily exploited species
Migratory nature and nesting occurs in about 70 countries across the world. Maturation
is slow and is estimated between 25 – 40 years.
Habitat – Nesting occurs on insular, sandy beaches.
Distribution – In India – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the coast of Tamil Nadu and
Threats – Turtle shell trade, egg collection, slaughter for meat, oil pollution and
destruction of nesting and foraging habitats.
Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Largest of the living sea turtles, weighing as much as 900 kg.
Adult leatherback turtles – excellent swimmers.
Primary food – Jellyfish.
Habitat – Tropical and subtropical oceans.
Distribution – Found in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and into
Threats – High sea fishing operations, harvesting of eggs, destruction of nests by wild
predators and domesticated species such as cats, dogs and pigs.
- o Artificial lighting disorients hatchlings and adults and causes them to migrate
inland rather than towards the sea.
o Threats to habitat include construction, mining and plantation of exotics.
Four – toed River Terrapin or River Terrapin (Batagur baska)
Habitat – Freshwater rivers and lakes.
Distribution – Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Threats – Use of flesh for medicinal purposes, demand for eggs, which are considered a
Red-crowned Roofed Turtle or the Bengal Roof Turtle (Batagur kachuga)
Restricted to the Ganga basin.
Males have a bright red coloration during the breeding season.
Habitat – Deep, flowing rivers but with terrestrial nest sites.
Distribution – Found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In India it resides basically in the
watershed of the Ganga.
Threats – Water development projects, water pollution, human disturbance and poaching for the illegal wildlife market.