Population trends of Mugger Crocodile and human-crocodile interactions along the Savitri River at Mahad, Maharashtra, India

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Utkarsha Manish Chavan
Manoj Ramakant Borkar


In this paper, we report monitoring of a resident population of Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris (Lesson, 1831)  along a stretch of 3.5 km of the river Savitri on the outskirts of Mahad town of Raigad District in Maharashtra, on monthly basis from 2014 to 2021.  This river is increasingly becoming a sink of anthropogenic wastes emerging from adjacent settlements impacting its habitat value, and puts the reptile side by side with humans and human-wastes that could be a cause of rising incidents of crocodile mortality in the recent times here, as also reported from elsewhere.  Savitri River has been a fishing ground for local indigenous communities, who also use the river bank for washing clothes and utensils, and for swimming.  Such proximity between people and crocodiles creates a potential for negative interaction.  This long term study monitored the Mugger population trends for the last eight years at four transect stretches along the river.  Counts are suggestive of a healthy viable population of Mugger in this river currently, but a future conflict situation cannot be ruled out.  Being generalist feeders, Muggers can sustain themselves on fish, and scavenge on dumped carrion and other anthropogenic organic wastes.  With the exception of a few sporadic incidents of aggression by the Muggers at this location, no human casualties have been reported thus far, however, this does not rule out fatal reciprocal interactions in future and hence a few practical mitigation measures have been suggested.  

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