Context:World Crocodile Day celebrated on 17th June, is a global awareness initiative to highlight the plight of endangered crocodiles and alligators.
According to the experts, countries in southern Asia need to pull efforts to conserve the region’s three crocodilians, especially the critically endangered gharial.
India is home to three kinds of crocodiles:
The mugger or marsh crocodile (most widespread and found in other South Asian countries too - Vulnerable; Schedule 1 of 1972)
The estuarine or saltwater crocodile (found in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, the Sundarbans in West Bengal and the Andamans and Nicobar Islands - Least concern; Schedule 1 of WPA, 1972)
The gharial (found mostly in Himalayan rivers - Critically Endangered; Schedule 1 of WPA, 1972)
Human-Crocodile Conflict: Humans enchroachment on the river banks with an increased tourism and urbanization are the primary reasons for increasing human-crocodile conflict in the areas like - Vadodara in Gujarat, Kota in Rajasthan, Bhitarkanika in Odisha and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Sand mining, untreated domestic sewage and illegal fishing remains a major challenge to gharial conservation across southern Asia.
Conservation measures: The Crocodile Conservation Project launched in 1975, resulted eventually in increase of Saltwater crocodile population in India.
Transboundary cooperation is very much needed in south Asia. The gharial, along with the Ganges dolphin, was on the agenda of the CMS CoP13.