About Sunderban-Crocodile Printing View
<< Previous

About Karamjol >>

(Kumir) any of the 13 species of large crocodilian reptile of the family Crocodylidae, order Crocodylia. They are mainly of tropical distribution occurring in the Old and New Worlds. The name Crocodile is sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to any crocodilian, including alligators and the gavial (=Ghadial). Bangladesh has one species of Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), and two species of crocodiles: Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and Marsh Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris).

Estuarine Crocodile (mohonar kumir) In Bangladesh Estuarine Crocodile is a critically endangered species. Its underparts in young and semi-adults are remarkably light-yellowish olive with numerous dark spots all over the upper surface of the body. Adults become somewhat darker as they grow up with underparts uniformly light. A bumpy bony ridge can be seen in front of each eye, and extend forward nearly to the nasal swelling. Its post-occipital humps are absent or feebly developed; while its nuchal humps are arranged in a cluster. Dorsal scutes are arranged regularly in 16-17 transverse rows and 6-7 longitudinal rows. Body length may reach up to 10 m, but is usually about 5.5 m. It is more aquatic than Marsh Crocodile (C. palustris); and is seen even in the sea. Crocodiles roost during the day on well-marked trails led from water into mangrove forests and feed mainly on fish but may even hunt large animals. Mating of crocodiles start in winter and they lay eggs in May. During breeding season females make nests, usually 75 cm high and 2 m in diameter, with mounds of vegetation and mud. Number of eggs may be 20-72 (average 50); and the incubation period lasts for 80-90 days. Crocodiles live in the estuaries and coasts of the Sundarbans . Habitat loss and hunting are the major threats to their survival. They are found also in S and SE Asia, Papua New Guinea and Australia (northern part).

Marsh Crocodile In Bangladesh it is almost extinct in the wild and only a few individuals survive in a pond at the shrine of Hazrat Khan Jahan Ali at Bagerhat in the southern part of the country. Both the Marsh Crocodile and Estuarine Crocodile look similar, and it is difficult to distinguish them in the wild.

Gharial one of the most primitive living crocodiles, Gavialis gangeticus, family Crocodylidae, class Reptilia. It is so-called because its head with snout is similar in appearance to that of a horse. According to some, however, the name derives from the appearance of a large hollow cartilaginous octagonal protuberance on the end of its snout near the nasal cavity, resembling an earthen pot, or Ghara. The specific trival name is due to its presence in the river Ganges. Gharial is a shy and benign aquatic reptile measuring 4 to 7 m in length. This animal is distributed in the major rivers of Indian subcontinent. In Bangladesh it was once distributed in Padma, Jamuna, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. However, the animal is now a very rare sight. Fossil forms have been described from Siwalik Hills and Narbodavalleys from Pliocene deposits. This group of animals have maintained their stature unaltered since their appearance in the Jurassic Era.

Long and slender snout is a very prominent feature of Gharial. The upper jaw houses about 50 small sharp teeth, while the lower jaw has about 48. The teeth are adapted to prey on common fishes and aquatic birds. Sometimes it seizes goats and dogs which visit the bank of rivers. Forty or more eggs are deposited on the bank of river in holes scooped out and afterwards covered by sand. The young appears in March-April and measures about 40 cm including the tail. Unlike other crocodiles, Gharials spend little time basking on the land. Their limbs are not well adapted for walking on land like their cousins. Their forelimbs are conspicuously shorter and smaller than their hind limbs. All the five fingers are webbed and well-developed. The tail is robust and strong, and adapted for swimming. The Hindus used to sacrifice Gharials to the god Vishnu. It was regarded as a very sacred animal and they would not slaughter them for other purposes. With the change of their outlook, people started to poach them for their armoured skin. Ladies bag, shoes, decoration pieces, etc made of Gharial skin fetch lucrative sums abroad. As a result, their population has declined at an alarming rate. The species is now listed as critically endangered in Bangladesh.

Honey (madhu) sweet, viscid fluid produced by bees from the nectar collected from flowers, and stored in their nests or hives as food. Honey is classified according to origin as blossom and honey-due-honey and by processing mode as comb, extracted or pressed-honey. The colour, taste and odour of honey depend on the type of nectar the bees collect. The main constituent chemicals of honey are levulose (fructose) and dextrose (glucose); other chemicals are sucrose, protein, K, P, Mn, Na, Mg, Ca, Fe, Al, Cu, Cl, S, Vitamin A, B, C, K and E. The caloric value of honey is about 3,040 calorie/kg. Honey is highly priced and has a wide range of use as food and medicine. Two species of honeybee collect honey that has commercial value: Apis dorsata has never been domesticated but produce most of the honey in Bangladesh; A. cerana indica produce honey both in the wild and in domestication. The apiculture practice is now being popularized in Khulna, Jessore, Bogra, Mymensingh, Tangail, Dhaka, and Chittagong. About 50 species of honey plants have been identified. The Sundarbans is the major producer of honey in the country and account for about 20 per cent of the total honey production of Bangladesh. These are mostly unifloral honey of goran-type and golpata-type. The other unifloral honey of the Sundarbans is khalshi-type; it is very high priced due to its high quality. The second important unifloral honey is mustard-type, mango-type, and Indian jujube-type. Other honey of both wild and culture is the coconut, onion and litchi-type. Most of the honey is collected from December to June but the peak period for collections is February to April. Honey is collected by pressing or squeezing the comb. Blotting and blending of honey is done manually. About 109 m tons of honey was collected from forest sources in 1995-96. The world production of honey is about 1,500,000 m tons. China is the major producer (about 25%); Germany is the highest consumer (1.8 kg/capita). The per-capita consumption of honey in India is about 9 g; it is only about 2 g in Bangladesh. Honey is traditionally consumed as table honey or as medicine.