Croc-ing for 2014

All of us from the Crocodilian and Freshwater Turtle Research and Conservation Project wish our readers a very happy 2014. Our 2013 season has been outstanding to say the least.  We spent the beginning of 2013 over the months of January, February and March estimating gharial numbers in the Corbett National Park of Corbett Tiger Reserve. During this period we censused the Ramganga River, Dhikala, Takia Sot and Boksar. While surveys on the Ramganga River were mainly foot surveys we used our inflatable boat with it’s Torqeedo 1003s Electric Boat Engine to survey most of the reservoir sections. Counting crocs in Corbett was all about new discoveries and new methodologies this season. We are pioneering the use of trail cameras in our estimation work at Dhikala and our initial results have been way beyond expectations. Our improved counting methods and increased familiarity with the study area has helped us detect more adults in Corbett National Park as compared to 2008. The adult population figures here indicate an increase by 17% between 2008 to 2013.

An Adult Male Gharial in Corbett 

An Adult Female in Corbett 

 Our research paper documenting our multi – method approach in estimating adult gharials is now available for the larger audience in the International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation

In this manuscript we focus on our methodology with Dhikala as our study site incorporating trail cameras, boat surveys along the shoreline and stationary counts to arrive at our population estimate here.

Our inflatable boat with a Torqeedo 1003s Electric Boat engine helps us access shallower sections of the shoreline during estimation work
Time lapse trail cameras are used in our multi - method approach for counting adult gharial.

Our nesting surveys this time round were a roaring success with about 350-400 gharial babies hatching in Boksar alone. If you recall through 2008 to 2012, we detected depredation of most of our egg clutches by Monitor Lizards and speculated on these high predation rates being a derived state linked to reservoir dynamics. Well our findings in 2013 where no predation occurred of gharial egg clutches strengthens our view that reservoir dynamics play a vital role in regeneration of the species in Corbett.

Gharial Hatchlings in Corbett 

Parental care of gharial hatchlings in Corbett

We have also started counting our mugger population in Corbett and alongwith our freshwater turtle surveys where we have documented Ganges Softshell Turtles, P. Tentoria and M. trijuga this far alongwith a turtle nesting area at Dhikala one could say 2013 has been action packed if not the least.

Mugger in Corbett
The Columbus Zoo continues with its support to our work in Corbett over 2014 for which the Corbett Team is extremely grateful to them. Our supporters till 2013 have been the Columbus Zoo, MBZ Species Conservation Fund, The Rufford Small Grants Foundation, the PPG Conservation and Sustainability Fund, the CZS CBOT Endangered Species Fund, Idea Wild and WWF – India and we are specially grateful to them. The Gadoli and Manda Khal Wildlife Conservation Trust continues to support our work in Corbett over the 2014-2015 season.

Our work has also been featured on Dr. Adam Britton’s Croc Log Podcast as well as on the Daily Mail UK Do check out the links.

Well counting season is coming up again and we head into the field within a week or two and this time round the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary of Corbett Tiger Reserve is also to be surveyed as part of our work here.

Should you wish to support our project with funds for logistic and operational costs or equipment please do email me at