All three species of crocodiles found in India

Context: The Odisha government has decided to compensate fishermen for the loss or damage of nets if gharials get entangled during fishing in the Mahanadi river. 

  • For close to five decades, the Odisha government has been involved in the conservation of three crocodile species by establishing 3 rearing centres — Tikarpada for gharial in AngulRamatirtha for muggers in Mayurbhanj and Bhitarkanika for saltwater crocodile in Kendrapara district.
  • Odisha is the only state in India having all three species of crocodiles (Gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile) found in nature.
  • There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater (least concern), Mugger (vulnerable) and Gharial (Critically Endangered)


Saltwater crocodile

  • It is the largest of all living reptiles.
  • It listed as least concern by IUCN.
  • It is found throughout the east coast of India.
  • Unlike other crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles lay eggs by creating a mound made of leaves of a particular mangrove species, which are plentifully available in Bhitarkanika National Park (which is also the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India).
  • Other crocodile species dig the soil for laying eggs.


  • Mugger Crocodile is a medium-sized crocodile, mainly a freshwater species only found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
  • The mugger are ambush hunters that mostly inhabits freshwater lakes,rivers, marsh and swamps forest of India.
  • The Mugger Crocodiles are the India’s most commonly seen river predators.

The Gharial

  • It is the most uniquely evolved crocodilian in the world, a specialized, river-dwelling, fish-eater reptile.
  • Habitat: Clean rivers with sand banks.
  • Status: Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • Distribution: Only viable population is in the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in India.
  • Small non-breeding populations exist in Son, Gandak, Hoogly and Ghagra rivers.
  • Gharials, which were abundant in the main rivers and tributaries of the Indus, Ganga, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi-Brahmani, are now limited to only 14 widely spaced and restricted locations in India and Nepal.
  • Now extinct in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan.
  • Presently, the wild populations of gharials can only be found in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

National Chambal Sanctuary

  • It is listed as an important bird area (IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site.
  • National Chambal Sanctuary supports the largest population of Gharials in the wild.
  • National Chambal Sanctuary is the only known place where nesting of Indian Skimmers is recorded in large numbers (although a new breeding site was discovered in Odisha, India, in 2016).

Bhitarkanika National park

  • It is a protected wetland under the Ramsar Convention.
  • It is said to house 70% of India’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles.
  • The Bhitarkanika National Park is a place where the rivers Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra and Pathsala meet the Bay of Bengal.
  • It hosts a large number of mangrove species and is the second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
  • Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lie in this park.

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