The ultimate objective of the GCA Gharial Recovery Program is to bring gharial populations back to a sustainable level, where it is still possible, and protect the continued survival of gharials through government enforcement and community cooperation in a manner that considers the needs of people and benefits local communities.
The strategy of the GCA Gharial Recovery Program is to use a strong scientific base of knowledge on the status of gharial populations and gharial ecology along with knowledge and consideration of the needs of local people to develop effective, targeted, education/awareness programs, management plans, and government lobbying campaigns.
River Watch GCA & WWF Recently the GCA has teamed up with Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) India, Jiwaji University, and relevant Forest Departments to form the River Watch Program, which is evolving into a holistic project with long term action plans for all important river taxa and the conservation of river basins as ecological units. Its primary focus is the health of Indian rivers and threatened riverine species. River Watch will utilize the combined efforts, expertise, and resources of WWF and GCA to achieve common goals.
River Watch realizes that if our rivers are to survive, an integrated conservation plan is needed. The focus of River Watch is on habitat protection, bringing together conservationists working for all river fauna, including the highly endangered Ganges river dolphin, smooth coated otters, mahseer and several species of endangered freshwater turtles, under one umbrella. Based in the WWF-India office in Delhi, River Watch is working to prioritize river conservation by drafting Management Plans for the various Protected Areas along river systems, developing and strengthening the policy and legislation for Integrated River Basin Management and lobbying for their implementation. While it will coordinate between departments such as Irrigation, Fisheries and Forest, River Watch will also network with our neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. It will campaign against over-harvesting of fish and water as well as any construction on rivers that works to the detriment of its habitat and fauna. It hopes to formulate guidelines for river ecotourism as well as promote use of safe fishing gear and teaching fishermen how to deal with accidentally captured gharial and dolphins. River Watch will collaborate with national and international partners in conservation, research and education to achieve its goals.
Captive breeding of gharials has been successful; however dwindling wild populations despite the release of thousands of captive-bred gharials indicate that restocking programs is not the solution to the population decline at this stage. Unless the factors that are causing the decline are resolved releasing gharial into the wild is only sending gharials to their death.
The GCA believes that first priority should be to resolve the threats to gharials. If the problems causing the decline are removed wild populations should recover automatically.
Restocking may be beneficial in areas where gharials historically existed but are now extinct, but only if the conditions are deemed suitable for gharials in those areas. Some possible areas for future restocking are the Brahmaputra, Indus, and Irrawady river systems.