After visiting Tripa Forest Research Station and discovering the wonderfully unique wildlife that can be found deep within the forests of South East Asia, come ‘eye to eye’ with one of the world’s largest crocodile species: the Sunda gharial.
Such an incredible looking animal!
Chester Zoo curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates, Gerardo Garcia, tells us more about the arrival of the Sunda gharials to Monsoon Forest:
Very little is known about this species which adds to their magnificence; however it seems that the females tend to lay around 20 to 30 eggs in a nest that has been made out of dry leaves and peat.
This mysterious type of crocodile is native to the rainforests of South East Asia and can be found in remote swamps and rivers as well as hiding within the shadows on the edge of the forest. It looks similar to a crocodile but has a very distinctive long narrow snout and around 80 needle-like teeth which are great for catching fish, frogs, monkeys and even deer.
They are becoming harder and harder to find in the wild as human populations increase and destroy the local habitats in order to make way for new villages, farms and oil palm plantations. In some areas the Sunda gharial is protected by the local people as they believe seeing them is a sign that there’s plenty of fish in the river for them to catch, however in other areas some people eat their eggs.
Even though the Sunda gharial is listed as a vulnerable species there is currently insufficient data to estimate the global population. That’s why we are supporting a project in Malaysia which is working towards increasing this data in Borneo.
As the forests that they live in are in decline it is highly likely that the Sunda gharial is also in decline. Knowledge on the Sunda gharial is extremely limited in Borneo and without knowing how large the population is, what the threats are to their habitat and even what they rely on to survive, effective conservation action cannot begin. So it’s vital that this information is captured.
What other wonderful wildlife can be found in Monsoon Forest? Continue exploring here.