Renowned wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee recently had a heartwarming encounter with a proud father gharial at India’s National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary. The gharial, a critically endangered species of crocodile with a distinct long snout perfect for catching fish, was 16 to 17 feet long and mated with seven to eight females. The male gharial was carrying over 100 of his young on his back as he crossed the Chambal River, exhibiting his remarkable parental care and protection towards his offspring.
Unlike other crocodile subspecies that hold their young in their mouths, gharials protect their young by carrying them on their backs. Mukherjee witnessed the male gharial’s fierce and defensive behavior towards anyone who approached his young too closely. Considering that there are fewer than 650 gharials living according to the IUCN Red List, their protective and timid nature is understandable.
With over 25 years of experience and numerous awards, Mukherjee hopes his stunning photographs of the gharial will increase public awareness of the importance of protecting endangered species. Despite the severe endangerment of gharials, recent breeding efforts have contributed to boosting their population.
Mukherjee’s extraordinary experience with the proud male gharial and his offspring highlights the significance of conservation efforts to protect vulnerable animals. By showcasing the gharial and other endangered species through breathtaking photographs, Mukherjee aims to inspire policymakers and concerned citizens to take action towards preserving these magnificent creatures. The gharial’s remarkable parental care serves as a reminder of the need to protect and conserve these species for future generations to enjoy.