Untitled Document


 / ©: Sanjeev Kumar Yadav/WWF-India
Gharial in natural habitat
© Sanjeev Kumar Yadav/WWF-India

Key Facts

  • Common Name


  • Scientific Name

    Gavialis gangeticus

  • Geographic Habitat

    Ganga river system of India & Nepal

  • Length

    3-6 meter (Male), 2.5-4 meter (Female)

  • Weight

    150-250 Kg

  • Population (Wild) in the world around

    less than 200

  • Did you know

    Gharial is only survivor of Gavialiade family

  • Status

    Critically Endangered

Conservation & Population Status

The Gharial, endemic to the Indian subcontinent was once abundant and common with an estimated population of 5,000 to 10,000 in the 1940s. Since 1999 a sharp decline in Gharial population has been recorded throughout its entire range. In 1997 436 breeding adult Gharial were recorded, by 2006 their numbers plummeted to 182 indicating a reduction of 58% over the last 10 years. The total breeding population of Gharial in the world is now estimated to be less than 200 individuals making it a “Critically Endangered" species (IUCN 2007). The species is listed as Schedule I under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Why Gharial are important?

Crocodilians are survivors from the great reptilian age and are recognized as keystone species in their environment due to the role they play in maintain the ecosystem and function by their activities.

Gharial, a mythical creature, is revered as the vehicle (vahana) of Ganga (River Deity) and Varuna (God of winds). Traditionally the animal has been identified with water, the source of all existence and fertility. It is the insignia of Kamadeva, God representing love and lust, and Kama’s flag (dhwaja) is known as Karkadhvaja i.e Gharial depicted on the flag.

Key Contacts

Dr. Asghar Nawab
Project Coordinator (River Basin)
Freshwater & Wetlands Programme
WWF India
Tel: + 91 11 41504813
 Email: anawab@wwfindia.net
Sanjeev Kumar Yadav
Project Officer, Gharial Conservation
Freshwater & Wetlands Programme
WWF India
Tel: + 91 11 41504813
Email: syadav@wwfindia.net