Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary

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Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary

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NATIONAL CHAMBAL (GHARIAL) WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - Rajasthan,

Location: the Chambal river from the region of Kota in Rajasthan to its confluence with the Jamuna river in Uttar Pradesh, in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh
Area: 600 km of river in a sanctuary of 540,000 ha
Altitude: 120-270 m
Biogeographical province: 4.8.4
Wetland type: 11, 12

Description of site: The Chambal is a perennial river in Madhya Pradesh; the stretch of river contained by the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary extends for a distance of 400 km downstream from the region of Kota to the confluence of the Chambal with the Jamuna river, a major tributary of the Ganges. The river forms the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Within the Sanctuary, (approximately 600 km in length) the river flows through areas of deeply eroded alluvium. Stoney rapids, sand banks and gravel bars are abundant, and there are many steep banks and bends where the depth of water exceeds 10 m. Numerous, temporary water courses form narrow ravines incised into the riverbanks. The portion of the river at Jawaharlal Sagar is considered the best habitat in India for the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Climatic conditions: Dry, tropical monsoon climate with an average annual rainfall of 800 mm, most of which falls during the monsoon in July-September. Temperatures range from a minimum of 4° C to a maximum of 42°C

Principal vegetation: The aquatic vegetation consists mainly of species of Vallisneria, Hydrilla, Zannichelia, Potamogeton, Nitella, Chara, and Typha. The river banks support scattered groups of Acacia catechu and A.arabica, and shrubby vegetation forms dense patches in ravines and side valleys

Land tenure: Under the control of the Forest Department of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh Conservation measures taken: The National Chambhal (gharial) Wildlife Sanctuary (540,000 ha) was created primarily to conserve a large population of the endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). The first section of the Sanctuary was established in 1978 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972; further division were added m 1979 and 1983. The Sanctuary is managed by the respective State Forest Departments, and is totally funded by the Government of India which coordinates the activities of the three states. The resident staff comprises a project officer, three game rangers, seven research assistants, seven field assistants, four boatmen, and twelve guards. The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) are the subject of continuing restocking and monitoring programmes since 1979. By January 1987, 1133 gharials and 50 marsh crocodiles had been released into the wild. Fishing has been totally banned in the sanctuary, and illegal activities are being controlled by the State authorities. The population of gharials has soared from 107 in 1978 to 804 in 1988, and the number of nesting females has increased from 12 in 1978 to 50 in 1988. The important governing factors that have contributed to the survival and recruitment of wildlife in the Chambal river are adequate fish populations due to the stoppage of fishing, and highly protected habitat with security against possible dangers

Land use: A managed nature reserve. The water is used_ forirrigation and domestic use, and fishing occurs in many stretches of the river outside the sanctuary

Disturbances and threats: The erection of a series of multipurpose dams at Gandhi Sagar, Rana Pratap Sagar, and Jawahar Sagar and a barrage at Kota in the upper reaches of the Chambal river have altered the natural seasonal flow of the river, and greatly reduced the flow in years of low rainfall. Irregular water releases from the dams and barrages have made the habitat unsuitable for dolphins and cause inundation of eggs of gharial, turtles, and some bird species. Habitual fishing in the river with large nets, contributed to a high level of crocodilian mortality in the past. The park staff have therefore begun to patrol the river to prevent fishing for wildlife in the most important areas. Cutting of wood, bushes, and other vegetation for firewood by local villagers has led to severe soil erosion, flattening steep sand banks at some places, and thereby making them unsuitable for gharial nesting. Sand mining for construction purposes and laying of roads has led to a reduction in the nesting sites of turtles and some birds which mainly nest on sand banks. Cultivation on the banks by local people, sometimes on and near nesting sites of gharials and turtles, causes disturbance to the species, resulting in their abandoning the site Economic and social values: The river provides a reliable source of water for irrigation and domestic use, and supports a significant fishery

Fauna: Holds good populations of aquatic reptiles such as crocodiles and turtles and aquatic mammals such as dolphins and otters, in addition to rich fish fauna. It is of outstanding importance for the endangered gharial, for which the Sanctuary was especially created. Both species of crocodile (Gavialis gangeticus and Crocodylus palustris), three species of turtles (Kachuga kachuga, Trionyx gangeticus, and Lissemys punctata) and both species of aquatic mammals (Platanista gangetica and Lutra sp.) listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, appear here. According to surveys conducted in the Chambal river during 1988, the gharial population was 804, around 50 dolphins were present in a 320 -km stretch of the river, and 5 to 6 families of otter (approximately 35 in number) were found. The following freshwater turtles were recorded during a survey conducted in 1985: Kachuga kachuga, K. dhongoka, K. tentoria, Trionyx gangeticus, Lissemys punctata, Chitra indica, and Hardella thurgii. The river is rich in fishes, with at least 67 species known to occur. The area is of considerable importance for both resident and migratory waterfowl, especially Ephippiorhynclius asiaticus, Miser indicus, Grus grus, Grus antigone and Rynchops albicollis.

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