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Tata zoo gives up gharial hope

Jamshedpur, July 25: Authorities of Tata Steel Zoological Society apparently have lost all hope of welcoming back the third Gangetic gharial that was washed away with two other gharials and a crocodile in the June 18 flash floods.

The authorities have been disappointed by the lack of information and feedback about the animal’s whereabouts from fishermen, police or villagers.

They are now afraid that the animal might have swam to its freedom in some river of neighbouring Bengal or to some other state.

“We have found out that the gharial is not in any of the Jharkhand rivers. If it was then we would have got some feedback about its presence from people. We fear that it has found its way to rivers of Bengal,” said a zoo official.

The director of the Tata Steel Zoological Society, M.S. Jain, said: “We have lost all hope of getting the third gharial back, as it has been traceless for over a month now.”

In case of the two gharials that were rescued and brought back to the zoo, officials received information from all three quarters — fishermen, the police and people — to trace them successfully.

Of the two truant animals, one was spotted at Babudih by some fishermen, after which it was brought back to the zoological park. The other was brought back from Kharagpur in Bengal on July 15. A five-member team from the Tata Steel park left for Kharagpur to bring back the animal that was found in the Rohini, a tributary of the Subernarekha, some 260km from the steel city.

Interestingly, the crocodile travelled less than the gharials and was caught on the zoo premises.

“For the first two gharials, we received some information about their whereabouts from people. But this time we have received no news at all,” Jain rued, adding that gharials fell in the endangered species’ list.

Before the June flash floods the zoological park had a male crocodile and three gharials — two female and a male. The three reptiles were all around 10 years of age and stayed together in a pond in an enclosure with the crocodile.

After being rescued, the lone crocodile has been given a new home — another pond inside the zoo hospital compound.

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