Nature continues to amaze us with rare moments. Wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee just happened to capture one such incredible moment on film.
He was taking photographs in India’s National Chambal Sanctuary when he shot a once-in-a-lifetime photo.
The photo shows a father freshwater gharial, a type of crocodile, swimming around with dozens of babies on his back. There are so many little crocs, it’s hard to get an accurate count!
View this post on Instagram
Posted @withregram • @bbcnews Take a close look at this picture. No, that's not seaweed covering the crocodile, it's actually lots of young crocs catching a ride on their dad. 🐊🚖 The shot of the freshwater gharial – an endangered species – was captured by Dhritiman Mukherjee at India's National Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. It's now been highly commended in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Dhritiman says that while most crocs (carefully!) carry their young in their mouths, the unusual shape of the gharial's snout makes this impossible. "So the young have to cling to the head and back for that close connection and protection," he explains. A loss of river habitat thanks to dams and barrages mean gharial numbers have fallen from over 20,000 across South Asia to less than 1,000 adults. And three-quarters of these are concentrated in the Uttar Pradesh sanctuary, making it even more important for all the youngsters catch a ride. The winners of the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will be announced on 13 October. (📸Dhitriman Mukherjee/Wildlife Photographer of the Year). Tap the link in our bio 👆 to take a peek at more of the amazing shots chosen for consideration. #NaturePhotography #Wildlife #Photography #AnimalsofInstagram #Crocodile #India #BBCNews
The rare photo gained a lot of attention in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and is praised by other expert photographers.
Speaking of his photo, Mukherjee shared with BBC News, “This male had mated with seven or eight females, and you can see that it was very much involved. Normally the gharial is quite a shy crocodile compared with the saltwater and marsh crocs. But this one was very protective and if I got too close, it would charge me. It could be very aggressive.“
Beyond capturing a stunning photograph, Mukherjee’s photo also sheds some hope for the freshwater gharial species. That species of crocodile is on the critically endangered list, with only around 650 mature individuals left in the wild. The once-thriving species was pushed to dangerously low numbers due to humans destroying their habitats.
The freshwater gharial can grow between 12.25ft-15.5ft in length and weighs around 2,2000lbs once mature, according to National Geographic. They’re thought to live between 40-60 years.
What makes the freshwater gharial even more unique is the large bulge at the end of their snout. According to BBC News, the senior curator of reptiles at London’s Natural History Museum, Patrick Campbell, shared, „Other crocs carry their young about in their mouths. Very carefully, of course! But for the gharial, the unusual morphology of the snout means this is not possible. So the young have to cling to the head and back for that close connection and protection.“
Let’s hope each of these babies can grow up and breed – and save its species!
Make a Donation!
You contribute a general donation to the Dean Schneider Foundation! This donation will support our purpose and be used wherever it is needed the most!