Growth rate of captive Gharials Gavialis gangeticus (Gmelin, 1789) (Reptilia: Crocodylia: Gavialidae) in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

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Bed Bahadur Khadka
Ashish Bashyal


Gharials Gavialis gangeticus have been reared in ex situ facilities in the Gharial Conservation and Breeding Center (GCBC) in Chitwan National Park of Nepal since the 1980s.  There remains a paucity of detailed information concerning their growth rates, particularly with respect to season.  We randomly selected 20 gharials (45 months old) in the GCBC, tagged them, and recorded total length (TL) and weight over three warm (April–September) and two cold (October–March) seasons between 01 April 2013 and 30 September 2015.  We also recorded amounts of fish consumed by these gharials every month over the 30-month period.  On average per season, the gharials grew by 9.48±3.63 cm (1.58cm/month) in length and gained 2.61±1.14 kg (0.43kg/month).  Growth rates were significantly higher during warm seasons.  The highest increase in both length (mean= 21.2±8.61 cm) and weight (mean =5.59±2.12 kg) occurred during the first warm season (April 2013–September 2013) of the study, and annual growth rate was also highest during the first year.  Our data indicated strong correlation between mean length and body weight.  A total of 2,103.9kg fish was consumed by 20 gharials over 30 months, for a mean consumption of 3.5kg fish per individual per month.  Mean fish consumption was also significantly higher during warm (96.99±37.35 kg) versus cold (29.83±17.09 kg) seasons.  Survival rate was 100%.  Our findings establish baseline data for growth and feeding rates of captive gharials that will be useful in making management decisions in captive breeding and rearing facilities.

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Author Biographies

Bed Bahadur Khadka, Gharial Conservation and Breeding Center, Chitwan National Park, Kasara, Chitwan, Nepal.

Bed Bahadur Khadka is Assistant Conservation Officer and In-charge of Gharial Conservation and Breeding Center at Chitwan National Park. He has wide experience in wetland and freshwater ecology and has been studying Gharials for last 15 years.

Ashish Bashyal, Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal, Manigram, Rupandehi 32903, Nepal.

Ashish Bashyal is a Co-founder and Conservation Scientist at Biodiversity Conservancy Nepal — a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation in Nepal. He has been studying genetics and ecology of crocodilians including Gharials since 2009.


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