The sarus crane highlights the sad plight of the gharial in the Chambal. Today they fight for survival despite being in protected waters.

Hi pals,

I am not too concerned about the problems of the “global citizens”, for we have crisis at home. I am an Indian Sarus Crane and I am a witness to a horrific murder mystery. Sit up and take notice! I have yet another grim, grisly tale to tell.

It is a case of mammoth — no, Goliath may be a better word — gharial carcasses being washed up onto the banks of the Chambal River in central India.

Who or what is killing these critically endangered cousins of crocodiles and alligators? Read on, you modern Perry Masons and solve this perplexing case!

Gavialis gangeticus are desi guys. Even their name comes from a Hindi word ghara meaning “earthen pot”. Adult males have a pot-like extension on their long, narrow snout. Nearly 23-ft long, grey and olive green skins with a pale yellow underside, gharials are protected in the National Chambal Sanctuary that lies in part, in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Incredibly, astonishingly, shockingly they are dying in protected waters here!

Now, the story gets murkier!

Oh, by the way, the last two letters set me thinking, pondering, nay, perhaps contemplating, in other words, reflecting on our life on earth.

Murder mystery?

Whose life is “superior” to others’? Nobody’s, I guess, for whether one is a globe-trotter or a frog in a well, life has the same joys and jeopardy for all. Do you not agree with me, friends?

The cycle of life never ceases. Perhaps what changes is the quality of life for each coming generation. Your grand-parents would have had a good, stress-free life, good food and clean air and water; and the life of their grand-parents would have been even better. Right?

Just ask this crocodilian if that isn’t the truth! That is if he is still around to answer you!

Back to my story — the Chambal River rises in the Vindhyas in Rajasthan in the west, flows through Madhya Pradesh and joins the Yamuna in UP in the east. What do you get when dirty, polluted Yamuna mixes with clean, clear waters of the Chambal?

Deadly microbes. Toxic, contaminated fish. Dead gharials. Yes, dead gharials with lead and cadmium in their swollen livers and kidneys.

On the river banks lies a nearly 23-ft long crocodilian, his pale yellow belly showing beneath his green-grey upper body, his long narrow snout closed for ever. His numerous needle-like teeth permanently inter-locked. Never to snap up little fish of the Chambal. His bulbous, pot-like “ghara” no longer hums or blows bubbles. His green eyes stare fixedly.

Who or what is killing them?

Every year many gharials die in the polluted waters. How many more will be lost if the mystery is not fully solved?

Indian Sarus Crane

Reply from Aristotle

“Who killed Croc gharial?”

“I,” said the Homo sapiens, “With my chemicals and toxins I killed Croc gharial.”

“Who’ll be chief mourner?”

“I,” said Mother Nature, “I mourn for my creature, I’ll be chief mourner.”

All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,

When they heard the bell toll for poor Croc gharial.