Gharial Conservation Alliance

About Gharials

The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a unique species of crocodilian, characterized by its long, thin snout and the bulbous growth at the end of its snout. Though millions of years ago there were several similar species, today the Gharial is the last remaining species of this ancient line, the last surviving species of the family Gavialidae.

Gharials eat fish and live in deep, fast-moving rivers. They are the most aquatic of all crocodilians, spending most of their time in the water and coming out onto land only to lay eggs and bask in the sun. They were once found in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar but are now extinct from most of these areas. Gharials now exist in the wild in only a few small areas of India and Nepal. Recent surveys indicate there may be less than 200 mature breeding adults left in the wild. Gharials are listed as “Critically Endangered” in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. 



Order: Crocodylia

Family: Gavialidae

Genus: Gavialis

Species: G. gangeticus

Physical characteristics

Long, very slender snout, vertically flattened tail, and webbed back feet. Body covered with heavy non-overlapping scales.

Body Length:

Males: 5 – 6 m (13 – 15 ft);

Females: 3.5 – 4.5 m (11.5 – 13 ft)

Hatchlings : 32.5 -37.5 cm (12.8 – 14.8 in)

Body Weight (Average) : 159 – 181 kg (350 – 400 lbs)

Sexual Dimorphism:

Mature adult males have cartilagenous, bulbus growth on the end of the snout.

Distribution and status

Range: Northern Indian subcontinent

Habitat: Riverine habitats with clear, fast moving water and steep, sandy banks.

IUCN Status: CR (critically endangered)

CITES Appendix: I

Population in wild: <200