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How to cite this article: Sandeep Fellows. A Survey of the Abundance, Population Structure, and Distribution of Mugger Crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) using day Ground Surveys in District Bhopal and its impact on Community. JOJ Wildl Biodivers. 2019: 1(1): 555554.
Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) are one of the planets oldest living creatures, thought to be around 200 million years old which means that crocodiles were around in dinosaur times. The Indian Maggar crocodile is a critically endangered species of freshwater Crocodilians were once abundant in many tropical waters around the world. The dangerous levels of exploitation came with the rise in demand for crocodile leather throughout the world especially in the European countries. Crocodiles were killed illegally every year to make wallets, shoes, handbags, and belts. With rising demand, hunters turned to more lethal methods. Using high-powered rifles, spotlights, and power boats, hide-hunters have pushed many species to the edge of extinction.
Mugger is common in many parts of India and is reported over 12 states. Presently the mugger population is estimated over 4,500+ in the wild, excluding 5000+ in captivity . In the Pre-historic period only seven species resided in India, and the number has decreased to Due to hunting and habitat destruction, the Maggar population was reduced significantly. Now only three primary species: Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), estuarine (coast) crocodile (Crocodylus porous) and Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
The reptile fauna of India consists of about 460 species; with 244 snakes, 178 lizards, three crocodiles, and 35 turtles. In the previously research study regarding Madhya Pradesh Publish in zoo print journal there are 01 crocodile, 01 Ghariyal, 11 turtle & tortoise, 32 lizard/Gecko/Agama/Skink 19 frog and 38 species, of snake . In Madhya Pradesh first time preliminary assessment (survey)to know the population and habitat distribution of Maggar Crocodile was conducted in the aquatic bodies of the Bhopal city. Result of this study repotted 1 Ghariyal & 12 Crocodile species The population of crocodile Estimated by interview method & Direct Day count, method in winter of 2017- 2018.
The area under Biotic pressure due to urbanization, tourism development project and local community. All aquatic bodies are traditionally used by local people for fishing, bathing, washing of cloths. activities resulted in shrinkage, degradation and destruction of natural habitat. Conclusion of study is given develop a method to estimated population, recognized the habitat for conserve the mugger Crocodile species in future and helpful to draw effective management plan.
Aims & Objective: The main objective of the proposed study is to conduct an assessment and determine the status/distribution of mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) inhabiting the Bhopal region, investigate human-mugger crocodile interaction situation, promote activities for crocodile conservation and ultimately propose actions that should be taken to conserve the species in this region.
a) To update the status of Mugger Crocodile through surveys, Study of habitat features and population structure behavioral biology including reproduction, thermo-regulation, feeding, water-orientation, locomotion etc.
b) To protect and conserve the remaining population of crocodilians in their natural habitat and identify habitat that would be suitable for restoration.
c) To identify the causes of declining Species status, To take-up research and
d) use Finding for future Best and effective management.
e) To build up Awareness among local people for conservation of Maggar Crocodile.
Status/Threats: The Muggar Crocodile is classified as Vulnerable (VU AI aC2a) on IUCN Red Data list 2004 and is listed on Appendix I of Cites. The mugger crocodile greatly decreased in number until the early 1970s. Killing of the species for skins was the primary cause of their decline in India . It was most vulnerable to this during years of drought when hunters could track and kill the animals more easily. Habitat destruction and alteration was another primary cause of species loss. Many dam construction projects that occurred during the 1900s to the
1950s destroyed habitat by removing areas of deep water that provided good cover. Timber operations also destroyed habitat during this same
time, by damaging forest ponds and rivers. Egg collection, hunting of crocodiles for meat and medicine, and death from fishing nets also have
contributed to their decline  (Britton A, 1995). Throughout the 1960s, surveys indicated that numbers of the mugger crocodile were on a
swift decline. However, conservation and restoration did not begin in earnest until 1972, when three crocodile species, including the mugger,
the saltwater crocodile, (Crocdylus porosus) and the Gharial, (Gavialis gangeticus) were placed in IUCN’s Red Data Book. Also, during this year,
the mugger crocodile was included in the schedule for the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, . This act provided for greater protection
The International union for conservation of Nature & Natural
recourses (IUCN) Placed the Maggar Crocodile (Crocodylis
palustris) as vulnerable under in Red data Book of endangered
species in 1972 in Schedule - I given high degree protection.
Muggar are in some report Largest modern reptile back bone
(vertebrate) cold blooded (depends on outside source for its body
temp) lay shelled egg breath air (well develop long) four chamber
hearts teeth filmy set in long flat jaws with their extraordinary
range of body size. Due to Four chambered heart & well develop
lungs they can also stay underwater for extended time because
they can slow their heart rate; allowing them to hold their breath
for longer. Crocodiles can see underwater due to a transparent lid
that closes over their eye to protect it. They also have excellent
night vision; due to a specialized retina; as well as a good sense of
smell. Small sensory buds around the top and bottom jaws allow
crocodiles to detect vibrations-crucial when hunting in murky
Crocodiles are large and skillful predators that hunt by stealth.
Their muscular tail propels them through water and allows them
to lunge forward with great power and speed. It can also be used
to thrust them vertically to capture a bat or bird in mid-flight or in
foliage. However; they cannot maintain strenuous activity for long
periods and can easily become exhausted while capturing prey or
fighting other crocodiles. Extreme exertion is done an aerobically
(without oxygen) and must be followed by a period of rest so that
the ‘oxygen debt’ can be repaid to their muscles. The result of
anaerobic activity is a build-up of lactic acid in the blood. Although
crocodiles can withstand higher levels of blood acidity than other
animals; sometimes it can be fatal.
Madhya Pradesh the land of diversity is one of the most exiting
wild life destinations of India. The protected area (included
National Park; Project Tiger and Sanctuary) in Madhya Pradesh
is 14324.844 (in Sq. Kms). The reptile fauna of India consists of
about 460 species with 244 species of snakes; 178 lizards; three
crocodiles; and 35 turtles.
The mugger crocodile is a freshwater (Vulnerable) species
found sparsely in various lakes; rivers and marshes in the Indian
subcontinent. They have also been found in reservoir irrigation
cannels and other human made fresh water bodies . Presence of
crocodile is recorded in most parts of the India Mugger crocodile.
The notable mugger population is recorded in Tamil Nadu; Kerala;
Maharashtra; Goa; Uttaranchal; Uttar Pradesh; Orissa; Gujarat and
Rajasthan. but presently in 12 states of India; the total population
of crocodile population is estimated at 4000+ in Natural habitat as
per inventory of Central Zoo Authority for the year 2016-17 in 23
states the captive population of 185 Males; 186 female and 2121
unknown i.e. total 2492 in captivity.  Central zoo authority of
India; inventory; 2017-2018. The average mortality is 23.333 %
and birth rate is 43.598 birthrate and mortality are show the draw
the effective management to multiply pollution program.
Three Crocodilians Species is a home many parts of India
Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris); Salt water crocodile
(Crocodylus palustris) & Gharial (Ganvialis gangeticus) in
which 1 species of Maggar crocodile (Crocodylus Polustris) and
Ghariyal (Ganvialis gangeticus) are found in Madhya Pradesh.
The Crocodile population in protected areas Management plan in
Madhya Pradesh are very less in number Population & status data
is not available in others working plan aquatic bodies eg. lake river
pond lakes; dam nala; Nala stops dam of nearest local residents
have direct and indirect evidence regarding presence of mugger
different part of state in revenue area however; at present there is
no effective management plan prepare for conservation of Mugger.
Apart from this there is 3 medium zoos in Madhya Pradesh. As
per the central zoo authority inventory of zoo animals’ analysis the
data from 2011-2015 which reported there is 3 male; 4 female and
36 unknown gender crocodile in captivity (Table 1). The birth rate
is 0.692% and the mortality is 3.889% due to which the mortality
is greater than the birth rate shows that the management is not
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) the only survivor of the Gavialidae
family is one of the most endangered crocodile in the world. The
Madhya Pradesh Government has declared three sanctuaries for
the conservation of crocodiles. They are:
a) National Chambal Sanctuary
b) Son Gharial Sanctuary
c) Ken Gharial Sanctuary
In National Chambal Sanctuary sanctuaries habitat area
(length x river width) is 128 Sq. kms with small patches of Ghriyal
Habitat and as per survey of 2007 the total population is 208
adults. Son Gharial Sanctuary is 13.5 sq.km and the population is
(survey 2006) more than 38 adults. With the best management
practice the population of gharial will be increase.
In Van Vihar National Park/Zoo since from the year 1995-
96 to 2017-18. According to table; the Captive population of
the crocodiles (Mugger) in the Van Vehar National Park Zoo is
declining. It is found that efforts have been taken up by bringing
male dominant species for increasing the population in year
2012-13. This effort made by the Forest Officials is appreciated
and fruitful but the causes behind the declination may be the
proper site suitability; lack of management or environment for
habitation of crocodiles in the zoo. It is also observed that the
ratio of the male dominant is very less to negligible compare to
female crocodiles. The present scenario states that only 10 male
crocodiles were brought compare to female numbers 149 in total
of past 23 years where the ratio is almost 1:15. To increase the
population of crocodiles and conserve the life of the endangered
species; it is suggested that the ratio of the dominant male compare
to female must be 2:5 for the production in numbers. Training
programs must be provided by introducing crocodile experts and
proper management has to be taken up by the National Park Zoo
The study area selected was aquatic bodies located in Bhopal
city the state capital of Madhya Pradesh lay down between
Latitude : 23° 15’ 35.7588’’ N & Longitude : 77° 24’ 45.4068’’ E; the
total area of Bhopal is 285.9 km2 & the population is 1;798218.8
(As per India census 2011) The terrain of Bhopal is undulating
and sildly hilly. The city was the capital of the former Bhopal State.
Bhopal is known as the City of Lakes for its various natural as well
as artificial lakes and is also one of the greenest cities in India. The
Upper lake is a large lake which lies on the western side of the
city have been built by the Paramara Raja Bhoj during his tenure
as a king of Malwa (1005-1055). It is a major source of drinking
water for the residents of the city; serving around 40% of the
residents with nearly 30 million imperial gallons (140;000 m3) of
water per day and Lower Lake is located to the east of the Upper
Lake. An earthen dam separates the two lakes. 10 other aquatic
bodies (Total areas is 43468863.95 selected for the Assessment of
crocodile population status & distribution.
b. Map of study area 1:50;000 with 30 second interval
c. DCLR Camera (Nikon D-90)
d. Binocular (7×10)
e. Survey sheet (Questionnaire)
f. Scale; Pen; Pencil with Nate book
g. Vernier caliper (for dunk measurement)
h. First aid kit
Based on Daily Newspaper and Media news Repotting
crocodile rescue from aquatic body of Bhopal in first survey was
carried out from 10 January to 13 January 2016 in result only 7
crocodile and 1 ghariyal is spotted. In year 2017 -2018 final survey
was carried out from 2 December to 31 December 2017in the
potential area by boat during the day time (10.AM to 1 .00 PM). for
estimating Population of crocodile & their distribution by direct
count method (Sun Basking Count Method) (Figure 1).
The primary data collected is based on the information collected
though different sources like preparing questionnaire;
interviewed of people & group discussion. The questionnaire included
question on topography of Area; presence of crocodile and
their habitat (Direct and Indirect sighting); Evidence of presence;
habitat (Nesting & barrow); Men & Crocodile conflicts; local people
knowledge of mugger crocodile; local people dependency on
water bodies; in study area population of Mugger Crocodile increase/
decrease in past year; poaching and trading activities etc.
Interviews and previous data can be helpful for the initial visit
to a site as a method to obtain background information or in determining
current research needs  (Thorbjarnarson 1988; Thorbjarnarson
and Hernandez 1988). Questionnaire survey with 237
local resident people. Fishermen; public & tourist in the month of
September & October 2017 in which only (28 questionnaire reports
14% of people interviewed have seen crocodile.
Day time Ground Count is nice method in which least
equipment required day time can be done by foot or boat as per
size of water body area some time reducing transport & logistic
Cost Magansson 1982 . Crocodiles use the water; sun and
shade to maintain their preferred body temperature of 30-33°C.
When basking; they orientate their bodies to ensure the maximum
surface area is exposed to the sun. Crocodiles cannot sweat.
To avoid over-heating; they may return to the water or lie with
their jaws a gape; allowing cool air to circulate over the skin in
their mouths. This process of heating and cooling their bodies is
called thermoregulation and is crucial for many bodily functions
including digestion and movement. Often observed basking on
the banks of watercourses where they are generally inactive;
crocodiles are less likely to be seen when they are in the water.
Livelier in the water; crocodiles can swim just below the surface;
with only their eyes and nostrils visible (Figure 3).
As per collect survey local resident people in the Questionnaire
where crocodile was observed in previously & potential areas
selected three water bodies out of ten; (1. Upper Lake 2. Kaliyasot
Dam; and 3 Bhdbhada Dam + Smiriti Van Bhadbhada). For counting
crocodile; a team of 2-4 local people depending on the size of
Aquatic body to be surveyed in the day time 10-AM to 1.00 Noon.
Day light count Required the least equipment and area the most
easily arrange however many zero count have been associated
with day light ground given the crocodile refrain from basking
with cloudy weather or when the optimal body temperature is
The Population & their distribution of crocodile are estimated
by direct count method (Sun Basking Count Method) survey was
carried out from 10 January to 13 January 2016 in the potential
area by boat during the day time (10.AM to 1 .00 PM) . The
survey revealed a total of only destroys nests of the Crocodile and
07 species found in direct sighting. The Total Count report is given
in given below (Table 2).
Distribution of Crocodile Observed (Day light Ground method).
Interview with the residents were conducted to understand
attitudes towards muggers and to assess the human-mugger
interactions. Interviews and previous data can be helpful upon the
initial visit to a site as a method to obtain background information
or in determining current research needs10 (Thorbjarnarson
1988; Thorbjarnarson and Hernandez 1988). Figure 4
Questionnaire survey with 237 local resident fishermen; public &
tourist in the month of September & October 2017 in which only
(28 questionnaire reports 14% of people interview have seen
crocodile [12-15] (Table 3).
Distribution of Crocodile Observed (Day light Ground method).
Night spot light survey is preferred method of crocodile survey
(Magnusson 1982) because of their versatility in habitat and
nocturnal nature of the animal. But in night time Survey required
special skill and manpower so night survey is not done [16-19].
The incidence of crocodile attack on human is none in study
area because the population of crocodile is less in compare to
large aquatic body; so, food available and habitat area is enough;
so, the territorial difference not seen in wide range of prey so with
increasing body size Figure 4a. Crocodile not took a big size prey
from body size. Causes for attacking behavior of crocodile are in
defense for their nest and siblings; mistakenly identifying animal
accompanying with people or Human are considered to have been
case of mistaken identifying type of incidence or attack are not
recorded in this area [20-23].
Wildlife habitat for Crocodile in year 2017-18 estimate
Crocodile wild population is 21. As well as other wildlife (Birds
& Reptile) are very good. Encroachments in the habitat or in its
fringes is continues process; None Crocodile and men conflicts
found in Study area no none people repotted from crocodile
attached by minor Injuries or death cattle of human and Domestic
animal. Natural mortality of crocodile is not repotted in study area.
All identified site location faces due to direct and indirect activity
Water sports and similar activities can all have negative impacts
on habitat of crocodile (Table 5).
People generally ignore environmental impact of pollution on
Air; Water; Noise; solid Waste; etc Figure 4b. While celebrating
Ganesh; Durga Pooja and Muharram; with a Tazia festival water
pollution caused by Visarjan i.e. The immersion of lord Ganesh and
goddess Durga; Tazia Pop; Cloths; Bamboo stick; wood part paper
thermocol jute & poisonous colours Synthetic Non-dissolving
paints; Iron.4 in lakes; rivers and Sea which are made from Plaster
of Paris (PoP) i.e. calcium sulphate hemi-hydrate. It takes several
months to totally dissolve Ganesh Idols made up of PoP into water
The boat club or Zoo road side without consideration use
for tourism one Cruse boat and other motor boats activities are
responsible for cause of disturbance of habitat of reptiles and
their movements. It is an ideal place to enjoy water sport activities
like kayaking; canoeing; parasailing; and water-skiing Figure 4c.
In winters many migratory birds come from distance of 1000 km
of mile but due to human activity; noise & Disturbance causes
decreasing of population of migratory birds’ day by day (Table
We thank the rest of the team members of the expedition
(Dr Baber Beig; Dr Sanjay Srivastava; Shri. Devi Singh Rawat;
Bhopal) Specially Thanks for Technical advice; training with great
support to Shri Dhawal Patel (Vidya nagar) and Voluntary Nature
Conservancy Family; Gujarat; Mr Mike Pandey (Director; Wild life
Movies)Team- Bittu Phookan; Ms Ruby Kaur; Dr Gurudatt Sharma
(STR Hoshanagabad); Dr Uttam Yadav (Indore) Mr. Sanjay Thakur;
Pune; Ms Kirti Rajgor (jamnagar) Yagnesh Bhatt (Dharmaj)
Moh Saeeb Khan (pachmarhi) Inbesat A.K (banglore) Anchint
Bhatnagar (Indore) Hemant Singh (RJVP Bhopal). We also thank
Dr Anjana fellows; Shobhit shrama; (GM; Daulatram Indrutries)
Sana; Sarah Master Viyan Sharma for Supporting the Project their
hard work and contribution towards the expedition Mr. Anurag
Shrivastav Appcf; (IT) Mr. S.S Rajpoot IFS; Mr. Yaduvendu ;Appcf
(HRD) Mr A.B Gupta CCF (Production) Mr R.P Singh Retd I.F.S Mr
Dhirendra bhargav CCF Balaghat ; Mr Parshant Jadav CCF (Sehdol)
Mr Anil Nagar CCF(Advait Adgaonker (Associate Professor; IIFM)
C. S Dubey Retd SFS Office and Mr. Mohan Singh Rawat (Forest Information Technology); Aditya Saxena (Web Manager); Dhani
Ram Mali (GIS Specialist) for their support.