‘Pollution’ in Harike wetland kills gharial

AMRITSAR: A gharial, a critically endangered species, has been found dead in the Harike wetland, putting the Wildlife Department on their toes.

‘Pollution’ in Harike wetland kills gharial

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 24

A gharial, a critically endangered species, has been found dead in the Harike wetland, putting the Wildlife Department on their toes. Kalpana, Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Ferozepur, has confirmed this.

The carcass of a long-snouted crocodilian species was spotted near Ferozepur feeder gate no. 1, the point of confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers through Harike headworks.

Gharials are a critically endangered species, with more than 80 per cent drop in population in the last decade. Under the Project Crocodile, the Wildlife Preservation Department of Punjab had released 47 reptiles in three batches into the Harike Beas — 10 on December 25, 2017; 15 on January 31, 2018; and 22 on March 15, 2018.

“The investigation is on to ascertain the cause of death,” the Divisional Forest Officer said.

It is, however, believed that underwater suffocation in the Sutlej, which gets polluted with industrial waste after passing through Ludhiana, caused the death of the rare species.

But Kalpana ruled out the possibility of water pollution killing a big reptile such as a gharial. “If it (water pollution) had been the reason for gharial’s death, the fish and other small creatures would have been affected first. There’s no need to panic,” the Divisional Forest Officer said.

She further said the post-mortem report would ascertain the cause of death. “We have sent the carcass to Tarn Taran for the post-mortem examination. The report is expected by Tuesday or Wednesday. The death could be a result of some accident. I say so because when it was pulled out of water, it emanated a pungent smell. This means the gharial had died in water three to four days earlier,” the Divisional Forest Officer added.

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