UP denies poaching in gharial deaths

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Lucknow, Dec 12 (UNI) Panic has gripped wildlife conservators following the death of more than 17 endangered gharials at the National Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh near Etawah.

However, officials here have denied any poisoning or poaching behind the deaths of the gharials and major industrial or domestic pollution in the Chambal river has also been ruled out.

State principal chief wildlife conservator V K Pattnaik told UNI here today that according to preliminary postmortem reports, deaths were due to damage in their liver and lungs.'' ''There was no injury to any of the dead gharials nor was there any evidence of poisoning. Only bacterial disease could be a possible reason for their deaths'', he claimed.

The viscera of the dead animals have also been sent for further investigation to the Indian Vetenery Research Insitute, he said.

Officials maintained that of the total 17 carcasses 13 were found on the UP side of the river while four were found in MP.

However, unofficial reports claimed that more than two dozen gharials have died in the past one week in the Chambal ravines.

Mr Pattnaik said the first death was reported on December 8 when one body was found and wildlife officers it as an accidental death.

After received the deaths of six more gharials on December 10 and six another on the next day, wildlife experts were sent for inspection yesterday at the Chambal river basin area. During the search operation yesterday and this morning, more dead gharials were found, some of them floating in the water of the river, he said.

''Yesterday, most of the 13 carcasses were found at the river's stretch near Barcholi, Kashoa, Jagtoili villages,'' Uttar Pradesh Chief Wild-Life-Warden DNS Suman said, who has since rushed to Etawah to investigate the matter.

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