Madras Crocodile Bank
donated by Herpetofauna
The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a very special, but also very endangered species of crocodile, which only occurs in a few places in India and Nepal. This animal has a unique appearance with the large body and the very narrow snout, on which the males have a bulge called the 'ghara' from which this species owes its name.
These animals have been able to coexist peacefully with humans for a very long time, mainly due to the fact that they are food specialists who do not prey on humans. Their diet consists mainly of fish and therein lies the major problem for this species. Many animals die because they get abandoned fishing gear in their mouths, which means that the animals can no longer hunt or even drown.
To ensure that there is no illegal fishing in these areas and certainly no material is left behind, patrolling is necessary and this is best done in watchtowers built for that purpose. The presence of rangers in these towers significantly decreases illegal fishing and poaching, which benefits huge numbers of animals. The Herpetofauna Foundation co-financed the construction of several towers.
This project was started by the Gharial Conservation Alliance (of which the Herpetofauna Foundation is currently a member), the IRCF and local governments.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
In 2023 Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) and the Sea Turtle Protection Force (STPF) - Tree Foundation have started a project to protect the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea).
This species is the second smallest sea turtle in the world and is found in warm and tropical waters, mainly in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. They are known for their nesting behavior, where the females lay their eggs in large groups on the same beach where they themselves once hatched.
The coast of Odisha in India is one of the largest breeding grounds of the warana. Nests also occur along the Coromandel coast, but in scattered locations. The coast from Kovalam to NemeliKuppam Village in Mamallapuram is one such breeding ground. The two conservation organizations train young people from the fishing community to patrol the beaches during the breeding season from January. Monitoring will continue until May 2023.