Proud Crocodile Dad Gives A Piggyback Ride to Over 100 of His Children on His Back (7Pics) – Icestech

Proud Crocodile Dad Gives A Piggyback Ride to Over 100 of His Children on His Back (7Pics)

Indian wildlife and conservation photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee has spent the past 20 years dedicating his life to the documentation and protection of animals. Spending over 280 days a year in the field, he’s seen many incredible moments. Most recently, his spectacular image of an endangered crocodile carrying its babies through the water is making waves online.

Bobbing in the waters of northern India’s National Chambal Sanctuary, the croc waits as more than 100 of his month-old children clamber onto his back for safe passage.

“Other crocs carry their young about in their mouths,” Patrick Campbell, the senior curator of reptiles at London’s Natural History Museum, told “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.”

Gharials can measure up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) long and weigh more than 2,000 lbss. (900 kilograms). They are named for the bulbous nobs that males sport on the ends of their snouts. (These nobs are called gharas, which is the Hindi word for “mud pot,” according to National Geographic(opens in new tab)).

Crocs use their gharas to amplify vocalizations and blow bubbles during mating season — an adaptation that seems to have served this particular croc well. According to Mukherjee, the pictured papa mated with seven or eight different females to achieve this brood of 100-plus hatchlings.

The crocodile is a male gharial crocodile who is the largest of all the living crocodiles. An ancient species that were first depicted over 4,000 years ago have had its population dramatically declining since the 1930s.

This makes the photo even more special, this father is definitely doing his part to help the population growth who is just under 1,000.

Hopefully, all those kids grow into healthy adults and become parents themselves. Gharials are critically endangered, with an estimated 650 adults left in the freshwaters of India and Nepal, according to the Natural History Museum. India’s National Chambal Sanctuary, which Mukherjee patrolled for weeks to get this shot, contains 500 of those full-grown gharials.

“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.”

Luckily, he stayed at a safe distance and was able to capture this striking behavior.

Mukherjee’s photo is one of 100 “highly commended” images in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, hosted by the Natural History Museum of London. Chosen from more than 50,000 entries, the image will join 99 others on the museum’s walls and eventually in a traveling exhibition, after the overall winners are announced on Oct. 13.

One of last year’s winning entries showcased two subway mice in a desperate struggle over a scrap of snack food. Does Mukherjee’s Gharial Father of The Year have what it takes to dethrone them? Check back in October to find out.

All credit images: Wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee

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