The first successful nesting and breeding site of gharial has been discovered in Nepal since 1982 where over 100 hatchlings of the crocodile species were found.
The discovery after 37 years was made in Bardia National Park by the conservationists from Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal (BCN).
The discovery has given new hope to the conservation of the critically endangered species of crocodile.
“Understanding whether gharials were breeding in Bardia National Park was considered to be a top priority for the species, as upcoming plans to divert nearby river systems are currently underway,” reported Nepali Times quoting ZSL researcher Rikki Gumbs.
“Given the species is limited to around five populations across its entire range, this is such a positive discovery, and a critical step for the long-term recovery of the species in Nepal,” Gumbs added.
The gharial is a critically endangered crocodile species and fewer than 100 adults remain in Nepal and in India.
The endangered species of reptile have suffered a 98 per cent decline since the 1940s.
Destruction of its riverine habitat caused by construction of dams, irrigation canals, sand-mining, pollution and agriculture are some of the major reasons for its decline.
The other reasons include over-hunting for skins, egg collection, accidental bycatch and pollution in the form of toxic effluents into the rivers from factories upstream also led to the decline.
Experts see this discovery as an important one, for now, they can now prioritise this population for conservation action, including conducting feasibility studies into whether the species can be translocated.