Gharial Nesting .....Boksar...2012

Late March to mid April is known nesting time for gharial and I was able to conduct a few preliminary surveys in Corbett Tiger Reserve to search for gharial nests. Boksar where nesting was recorded in 2008 for the first time in over 30 years was of particular interest. 

Was the nesting in Boksar in 2008 a fluke occurrence???? Or has nesting been occurring in Boksar over the years prior to 2008 but was never observed or recorded????? 

Setting out in the Park's inflatable with one of its tubes punctured I was a bit apprehensive at first of having a successful survey. However, Mr. Harish Dhyani, the boat operator for the day was as cool as a cat and swore by his inflatable and his boat operating skills, assuring me that all would be well.......with a little filling of air into the tube with the boat's foot pump......and that if anything untoward happened I was not to think about the Mugger Crocodiles in the water......not that I would have much to think about if the boat went under and I was grabbed by one of those muggers.....

video
The punctured inflatable gave me some anxious moments

The monsoons in 2010 were quite heavy and as we streamed towards Boksar, I, wondered what effect it would have on the gharial nesting sites there. On approaching Boksar, it was easy to see that much of the area was still submerged under reservoir waters and was similar to what it looked like in February 2008  obviously due the heavy monsoon rains in 2010........



Gharial Nesting Habitat in Boksar
As we surveyed Boksar gharial climbing activity was evident on sand embankments formed between mountain folds formed as dam waters receded.  This was surprising as heavy April showers had washed off all signs of trial nesting and climbing activity suggesting that though well past the nesting season, nesting in Boksar may extend over a longer period as compared to other places where gharial are found........ 


Gharial climbing activity on sand embankments in Boksar well past the known nesting season
    
As we continued our surveys in Boksar  we came across  a sand embankment in the general area where we found a predated gharial nest in 2008. Well, this time round there was no difference.........we were to again find a predated gharial nest in Boksar  and the tiny tail drag marks at the site suggested that a monitor lizard had been hard at work.......

Predated Gharial egg in Boksar

Gharial nest in Boksar predated by a monitor lizard
     
The finding confirmed that nesting does occur in Boksar and the area is of vital importance to the regeneration of the gharial in Corbett. Predation is a worrying factor and with the gharial on the verge of extinction protecting as many gharial nests as possible in Corbett is the need of the hour........