The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a crocodilian of the family Gavialidae that is native to the Indian subcontinent and also called gavial and fish-eating crocodile. As the species has undergone both chronic long term and a rapid short-term declines it is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN. The gharial is one of three crocodilians native to India, apart from the mugger crocodile and the saltwater crocodile. It is one of the longest of all living crocodilians. Gharials once thrived in all the major river systems of the Indian subcontinent, spanning the rivers of its northern part from the Indus River in Pakistan across the Gangetic floodplain to the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Today, they are extinct in the Indus River, in the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh and in the Irrawaddy River. Their distribution is now limited to only 2% of their former range.
National Chambal Sanctuary, also called the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 km2 (2,100 sq mi) tri-state protected area in northern India for the critically endangered gharial (small crocodiles), the red-crowned roof turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. Located on the Chambal River near the tripoint of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, it was first declared in Madhya Pradesh in 1978 and now constitutes a long narrow eco-reserve co-administered by the three states. Within the sanctuary the pristine Chambal River cuts through mazes of ravines and hills with many sandy beaches. The sanctuary is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is administered by the Department of Forest under the Project Officer with headquarters at Morena, Madhya Pradesh.
The Critically endangered Gharial crocodile and the Red-crowned roof turtle live here, and together with the endangered Ganges River Dolphin are the keystone species of the sanctuary. Other large threatened inhabitants of the sanctuary include Muggar crocodile, Smooth-coated Otter, Striped Hyaena and Indian Wolf. Chambal supports 8 of the 26 rare turtle species found in India, including Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle, Three-striped roof turtle and Crowned river turtle. Other reptiles who live here are: Indian flapshell turtle, Soft Shell turtle, Indian roofed turtle, Indian tent turtle and Monitor lizard.
There are many nature watching opportunities available for the visitors to the National Chambal Sanctuary. The best opportunities for sighting and photography of Gharial and Dolphins can be had by hiring a boat with experienced driver and guide, available at several points along the river. A boat excursion will also offer many good viewpoints for photography of water and shore birds and unique landscapes. Walking trails in the ravines and along the river offer opportunities for close observation of the wide variety of plants and animals in the Sanctuary. There are public vehicle entry points to Chambal Sanctuary at Pinahat, Nandagon Ghat, Sehson and Bharch. Boating and visiting arrangements can be made with the help of the Wildlife Conservator Office, at Kota.
Visitors may explore Ater Fort, a beautiful but dilapidated landmark and historical site near Ater town, 35 km from Bhind. The fort was built by the Bhadauria kings Badan Singh, Maha Singh and Bakhat Singh in 1664-1698. The fort is situated on the banks of the Chambal River and can be reached by bus, jeep or boat.
There are Forest Rest Houses at Bah and Chakkar Nagar and Public Works Department Inspection Bungalows at Bah and Pinahat. There are several commercial hotels and Eco Lodges at Agra, Etawah and Bah. The nearest airport is at Agra. The nearest railway station is at Agra. Agra and Mathura are major rail junctions with a number of trains from all over the country. Bharatpur, Ranthambhor National Park (with change at Bharatpur), Bandhavgarh National Park (Katni, Umaria) and Kanha National Park (Jabalpur) are all well serviced by the rail network from Agra.
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