Express News Service

DEHRADUN: Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and state forest department have started a survey to check the viability of establishing a ‘Crocidile Breeding and Rescue Center’ in Uttarakhand. 

Chief wildlife warden of Uttarakhand JS Suhag said, “Incidents of Crocodiles venturing into areas with human population has been noticed. To check this and propagate the species the section jas been taken to explore the viability of such center in Uttarakhand.”

In preliminary stages various locations, protected areas in the districts of Haridwar, Champawat, Dehradun, Pithoragarh and Udham Singh Nagar have been identified. 

Officials also added that riverbanks which were earlier breeding grounds for crocodiles and gharials are no more as safe as a decade or two earlier. 

Crocodiles are found in the Corbett landscape, Terai area, some areas of Haridwar forest division and Rajaji National Park landscape in Uttarakhand.

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According to the latest wildlife census released by the state forest department in June 2020, crocodile numbers have increased in the state from 123 in 2008 to 451 in 2020. 

India has three species of total 23 crocodilian species found in the world out of which Uttarakhand has two of the three crocodilian species – Mugger Crocodile and Gharial (in Corbett landscape). 

Last year, Uttarakhand state forest department had planned a crocodile and Gharial census using drones, first of its kind initiative in India. 

Earlier, the census was largely manual using binoculars and other tools for safe distance and accuracy. 

The project has be scaled up to entire Uttarakhand after piloting in Terai-East forest division of Kumaon division of the hill state. 

Majority of these reptiles are found in Terai area involving Corbett Tiger Reserve, Ramganga river and surrounding areas including Udham Singh Nagar district, parts of Haridwar district and Landsdowne forest division.