Are there gharials in Pakistan?

Answered by Tom Adger

The gharial, also known as the Indian gavial, is indeed a critically threatened species, and its population in Pakistan is virtually extinct. This remarkable reptile, with its long, slender snout and distinctive appearance, has faced significant challenges in recent decades, pushing it dangerously close to the brink of extinction.

In the 1970s, the gharial population experienced a dramatic decline, primarily due to human activities and habitat degradation. The construction of dams and irrigation canals along the Indus River in Pakistan severely affected the gharial’s natural habitat. These large-scale infrastructure projects disrupted the flow of water and altered the river’s ecosystem, making it unfavorable for the gharials to survive.

Furthermore, the gharial’s habitat was fragmented, leading to isolation and limited access to suitable breeding grounds. This fragmentation, combined with pollution and overfishing, further contributed to the decline of gharials in Pakistan. The excessive fishing activities reduced the availability of prey for gharials, making it even more challenging for them to sustain their population.

As a result of these factors, the gharial population in Pakistan has dwindled to the point where it is now considered virtually extinct. Only a handful of sightings have been reported in recent years, and the chances of finding a gharial in its natural habitat in Pakistan are incredibly slim.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to visit areas near the Indus River in Pakistan, where the gharial once thrived. It is disheartening to witness the impact of human activities on such a magnificent creature. The absence of gharials is not only a loss for Pakistan’s biodiversity but also a reminder of the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect endangered species.

The gharial population in Pakistan is currently on the verge of extinction. The destructive consequences of human activities, such as dam construction, habitat degradation, pollution, and overfishing, have severely impacted the gharial’s survival in the country. It is crucial for conservation organizations and governments to take immediate action to protect and restore the gharial’s habitat and implement measures to prevent its extinction.