|Range of false gharial|
The false gharial or Malayan gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) is a fresh-water reptile. It looks like a crocodile with a very thin and long snout. This snout resembles that of the gharial. That is where the name of the species is from.
From a morphological standpoint, it has long been classed in the family Crocodylidae, but recent immunological studies have shown that it is more closely related to the gharial than was originally thought. It is now classed in the family Gavialidae.
The false gharial is native to six river systems in Sumatra and Malaysia. It can also be found in Borneo, Java, Vietnam, Thailand (Not seen since 1970) and possibly Sulawesi. Fossils finds in Southern China indicate that at some point this species occurred there in the past.
The False gharial, like all other crocodilian species, lays eggs. It is not known when the species breeds in the wild or when its nesting season is. It is a mound nester. Females usually mature at 2-3 m. Mated females will lay a clutch of 30-60 eggs in a mound of dry leaves or peat. Once the eggs are laid, and construction of the mound is completed, she abandons her nest. Unlike most other crocodilian species, the young receive no parental care and are at risk of being eaten by predators like wild boar, mongooses, big cats such as tigers and leopards, civets, and wild dogs. The young hatch after 90 days and are left to fight for themselves.
The False gharial is threatened with extinction throughout most of its range due to the drainage of its freshwater swamplands and clearance of surrounding rainforests. The species is also hunted frequently for its skin and meat and the eggs are often harvested for human consumption. However, positive steps have been taken by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to prevent its extinction in the wild.
- Crocodile Specialist Group (2000). Tomistoma schlegelii. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 09 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is endangered and the criteria used
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