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Bihar forest department plans setting up offices in VGDS area for conservation of crocodiles in Ganga

By Avijit Biswas

Bhagalpur: The Bihar Government department of environment, forest and climate change looks forward to establishing offices of department at Sultanganj and Kahalgaon.

Establishment of offices at both places has been planned by department taking into consideration presence of crocodilian species namely mugger and gharial in stretch of river Ganga constituting area of Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS).

Approximately 50 Km stretch of Ganga between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon respectively located in upstream and downstream of river constitutes area of VGDS. Of late frequent citing of mugger or marsh crocodiles besides gharial also known as gavial or fish eating crocodiles have been reported from VGDS area.

Aiming at conservation of crocodilian species and better bio monitoring in VGDS area, establishment of offices has been planned at Sultanganj and Kahalgaon by department of environment forest and climate change.

Bharat Chintapalli, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) had recently requested local administration to provide land for establishing department offices at both places. In letter written to Subrat Kumar Sen, District Magistrate (DM) the DFO has stated that of late mugger and gharials are being frequently cited in stretch of the river constituting area of VGDS.

Frequent citing of mugger and gharials in sanctuary area is indicator of balanced river ecosystem, DFO has written. Informing worldwide cumulative population of mugger and gharials is around 8000, he has stressed upon conservation need of crocodilian species.

Further informing population of mugger is restricted to only five countries all over the world the DFO has stated mugger figures among vulnerable category species in IUCN red list. To substantiate his point regarding need of conservation of crocodilian species he has further stated both mugger and ghariyal figure in schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Mentioning forest department do not have land required for opening offices at Sultanganj and Kahalgaon, the DFO has requested for allocating land for the purpose.

The presence of crocodilian species in sanctuary area is considered as indicator of healthy river ecosystem by river dolphin experts besides forest department officials.

Dr Sunil Kumar Choudhury, member, National Committee for Research on Riverine Dolphin, said the forest department move of setting up offices of department at Sultanganj and Kahalgaon will pave way for better monitoring of VGDS area apart from facilitating efforts for conserving crocodilian species.

Informing there is no immediate evidence that could suggest there is resident population of mugger and ghariyals in VGDS area Dr Chowdhury said citing of the crocodilian species in VGDS area however indicates river habitat is relatively better in sanctuary area.

Elaborating he said by resident population of mugger and ghariyals it is meant the crocodilian species have been found breeding in sanctuary area. To substantiate his point presence of mugger and ghariyals indicate relatively better river habitat Dr Choudhury said the crocodilian species sharing habitat with other river carnivores like dolphin and otter convincingly suggests sanctuary stretch of river is rich in biodiversity.




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