Posted on 18 May 2023
Lahore, 18 May 2023: Following recent reports of sightings of the critically endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) reported on social media, WWF-Pakistan's wildlife team promptly visited the area in Punjab, Pakistan, to investigate further. The subsequent survey confirmed the presence of Gharials in the region, including the exciting observation of juvenile individuals after a presumed absence of three decades. In collaboration with the Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department and other partners, WWF-Pakistan aims to step up conservation efforts for the Gharial to ensure that the newly discovered population not only survives but thrives.
Local fishermen also shared that they had unconfirmed sightings of Gharials in Okara and Head Sulemanki nearly a year ago, although the incidents were not reported at that time. These accounts further reinforce the significance of the recent observations.
Expressing his optimism about this positive development, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan stated, "WWF's teams have been on the ground since we received the initial reports. With these recent confirmations, we are now shifting focus to working with the government and our partners to execute a robust conservation plan and conduct onsite monitoring with the cooperation of security authorities."
According to Jamshed Iqbal Chaudhry, Senior Manager Research and Conservation WWF-Pakistan, "The confirmation of the Gharial's presence in Punjab, including the observation of both adult and juvenile individuals, is an encouraging sign. It indicates the potential survival of these remarkable reptiles in Pakistan. Moving forward, our focus will be on implementing effective conservation measures and protecting their habitat by ensuring suitable water quantity and quality, and managing ongoing fishing activities. We will also look to engage experts to ensure that the species not only survives but also thrives.