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Chambal Sanctuary

National Chambal Sanctuary, also known as the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 km2 (2,100 sq mi) tri-state protected area in northern India for the critically endangered Gharial (small crocodiles), the red-crowned roof turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. Situated on the Chambal River near the tripoint of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, it was first declared in Madhya Pradesh in 1978 and now it includes a long narrow eco-reserve co-administered by the three states. Within the sanctuary the pristine Chambal River cuts through mazes of ravines and hills with most sandy beaches.

The sanctuary is protected under India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is managed by the Department of Forest under the Project Officer with headquarters at Morena, Madhya Pradesh.

Wildlife of Sanctuary
The Critically endangered Gharial crocodile and the Red-crowned roof turtle live here, and together with the endangered Ganges River Dolphin are the keystone species of the sanctuary. Other large threatened inhabitants of the sanctuary include Muggar crocodile, Smooth-coated Otter, Striped Hyaena and Indian Wolf. Chambal supports 8 of the 26 rare turtle species found in India, including Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle, Three-striped roof turtle and Crowned river turtle. Other reptiles who live here are the following: Indian flapshell turtle, Soft Shell turtle, Indian roofed turtle, Indian tent turtle and Monitor lizard.Mammals of less concern who live here include: Rhesus Macaque, Hanuman Langur, Golden Jackal, Bengal Fox, Common Palm Civet, Indian Small Mongoose, Indian Grey Mongoose,Jungle cat, Wild Boar, Sambar, Nilgai, Blackbuck, Indian Gazelle (Chinkara), Northern Palm Squirrel, Porcupine, Indian Hare, Indian Flying Fox and Hedgehog.

The National Chambal Sanctuary is listed as an important bird area (IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site. At least 320 species of resident and migratory birds inhabit this sanctuary. Migratory birds from Siberia also form part of its rich avian fauna. Vulnerable bird species here include the Indian skimmer.,Sarus Crane, Pallas's Fish Eagle and Indian Courser. The Pallid Harrier and Lesser Flamingos here are near threatened. Winter visitors consist Black-bellied Terns, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Pochard and Bar-headed Goose. Other species covers Great Thick-knee, Greater Flamingos, Darters, and Brown Hawk Owl.

Conservation management
The sanctuary is protected under India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is administered by the Department of Forest under the Project Officer with headquarter at Morena, Madhya Pradesh.Parts of the sanctuary are threatened by extensive illegal sand mining, which is endangering the fragile lotic ecosystem critical for Gharial breeding.

The National Chambal Sanctuary was formed to protect the pristine river ecosystem, complete with its varied flora and avifauna. With its headquarters at Morena, M.P., the Chambal river which is mainstay for the entire wildlife of the sanctuary harbours a variety of aquatic life like the elusive Ganges River Dolphin, Crocodile ( Muggar), Gharial ( Gavelia Gangeticus ), Freshwater Turtles, River Otters and a various species of fishes. All of which can quite easily be seen by tourists within the sanctuary area, especially in the middle reaches in the downside of Rajghat Bridge on National Highway No. 3.The Crocodile Centre at Deori, Morena nearby is the only one of its kind in the entire state of Madhya Pradesh and has recently been opened to public. The centre helps breed and rehabilitate Crocodiles and Gharials in the Chambal. The river boasts of a population of over 200 Crocodiles and 1600 Gharials. Active efforts are now to protect the Ganges River Dolphins. Stringent measures to protect the fragile ecosystem of the sanctuary are followed by the authorities. The visitors are also advised not to disturb, spoil the serenity of the surrounding environs or help in poaching activities directly/indirectly.

Main Attractions of the Sanctuary
ain attraction of the sanctuary are fresh water dolphins,21 Ft Crocodile, 18 Ft Gharial and Rareturtles.The rare Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista Gangetica), the sole member of the Cetaceans group is one of the main attraction of the sanctuary. So called the queen of Chambal, the Dolphins inspite of being blind can be seen pursuing their playful antics in the water while coming out to breathe for air. The Chambal sanctuary is one of their safest breeding areas. And one has to really lucky to sight one while cruising in the Chambal.

The surrounding environs of the river are a true bird watchers delight. During the season (November-March) one can see thousands of migratory and resident birds flock at the shores of river. At least 150 species of birds have been identified. Species of birds in abundance are the Bar-headed Geese, Brahmini Duck, CommonTeal,Pelicans,Flamingoes and Cormorants. One can have an easy sighting of the Indian Skimmer- the highest population of which in the world is found in Chambal.

Tourists to the sanctuary can enjoy its many sights by motor boats specially provided by the Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh. Complete safety within the peripheries of the sanctuary is ensured by the local authorities. And one can freely enjoy the natural wonders of the sanctuary which during the 50's and 60's was largely hidden due to the presence of dacoits.

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