At least 50 gharials found dead in India


According to a news item posted on yesterday, at least 50 gharials have died due to unknown causes since early December in the area of the Chambal river in India. Pollution and parasites seem to be the main contenders for a culprit, conservation biologists reporting that the livers and kidneys of the dead animals were swollen and seemed to be affected by an unknown parasite, although lead and cadmium were also found in the bodies of the gharials. At present the gharial is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, and the problems in the Chambal river area are especially worrisome when the IUCN report for this species noted that a survey turned up only 68 nests. The fact that most of the males in the Chambal river are immature contributes to the conservation problem, and while the news report did not specify the age or sex of the dead individuals the loss of at least 50 gharials in the Chambal is a staggering blow to one of the few remaining breeding populations.

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