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One of world’s most endangered species found for first time in nearly 40 years

A critically endangered crocodile has been found breeding in South West Nepal for the first time since 1982.

Conservationists in the region were given new hope when more than 100 newly born gharial crocodiles were found in the Bardia National Park of Nepal.

The discovery was made as part of a joint project headed up by conservationists from Britain and Nepal. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) had been working with the Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal as part of a UK government supported scheme to help protect local wildlife around the world.

Until the discovery, the gharial crocodile was in the top 20 most endangered species of reptiles, ranking at 17thon ZSL’s endangered species list (known as EDGE). The gharial crocodile has suffered a 98% decline since the 1940s due to human activity, including unsustainable fishing methods and increased urbanisation in the region. As a result, there are fewer than 100 adult gharial crocodiles in the whole of Nepal.

The discovery has meant that ZSL will now be able to look into moving the species to other parts of Nepal, as well as being able to research survival rates of hatchlings.

Project lead Ashish Bashyal, who was part of the team that made the discovery, said:

After trekking through the jungle for hours to sit on a ridge and finally catch a glimpse of the hatchlings below us – it was an incredible moment to capture.

People generally have a great affinity for gharials, they don’t attack humans as they generally feed on fish – and their snout is much too fragile. We want to try and harness that love for the animal into local community conservation action in order to help monitor how the hatchlings fair.

While experts welcomed the news, they also warned that urgent conservation action and funds are needed to ensure the species continues to thrive.

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Image by ZSL