TEHRAN (Iran News) – Gando-hosting villages of Sistan-Baluchestan are going to become the host to tourists with the perspective of promoting the culture of the native species protection, Vahid Pour-Mardan, head of the provincial department of environment (DOE) has stated.
The mugger crocodile, also called Gando in Iran, is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
Under the plan, the villagers of Sistan-Baluchestan, with the aim of boosting tourism and earning money, will implement objectives such as crocodile care, informing and educating tourists, he explained, IRNA reported on Monday.
This multilateral program is implemented in cooperation with the DOE, the NGOs, and the Wetlands Conservation Program to raise public awareness and elicit the participation of local communities and tourists, he said.
In this project, the mugger crocodiles are taken care of by the natives, who attract tourists in the form of educational and information programs and promote environmental culture in the community, he concluded.
The only crocodile native to Iran
Gando, one of the tourist attractions in the Chabahar Free Zone, is the only crocodile native to Iran and the largest reptile in the country.
It is interesting to know that the species is one of the rarest in the world and has a shorter snout than other similar species, which can be a valuable potential for attracting tourists and preserving wildlife in Iran.
“Wherever Gando is, there is plenty of water” is a common belief in southern regions of Sistan-Baluchestan, as they consider the animal as a symbol of blessing and prosperity and believe that with the migration and death of this animal, drought and famine will overshadow their lives.
Bahu Kalat and Sarbaz villages in Sistan-Baluchestan province have turned into a tourist attraction for their rare species of crocodiles found in Iran.
On the Iranian Makran coast near Chabahar lives a population of around 200 mugger crocodiles. Due to human activity and a long drought in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it had been pushed to the brink of extinction. Following several tropical cyclones in 2007 and 2010, much of the habitat of the mugger crocodiles has been restored as formerly dry lakes and hamouns were flooded again.
Although the crocodile is a very intelligent and shy species, it is, therefore, difficult to observe directly, so given the high probability of not being observed by census teams, the estimated number of this species in the region is twice the number observed about 400 crocodiles.
Threats to the rare crocodile
Asghar Mobaraki, a member of the crocodile group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that climate change is a major threat to mugger crocodiles, as the animal gender is related to nest temperature, not genetics. So, the increase in temperature makes this species unisexual.
In fact, the population proportion is unequaled and this situation is a disaster in terms of population growth, he lamented.
Pointing to the decrease in rainfall in recent years and water shortages in some habitats and ponds, he said that therefore, the protection of crocodiles requires more attention to natural habitats and the implementation of special management programs.
Habitat destruction for agricultural purposes, improper water withdrawal by pumping and digging canals, various chemical contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, motor oils, and detergents can be catastrophic and directly or indirectly endanger their offspring, he also said.
Some crocodiles are also threatened on the routes due to car accidents.