Hundreds of baby crocodiles have been photographed lining up like a tiny army on the banks of a river before taking the plunge in India.
The 20-day-old gharials, a genus of crocodile unique to South Asia, darken the banking of the Chambal river in Rajasthan, India.
Wildlife photographer Shivang Mehta photographed the critically endangered species standing to attention on the riverbank.
The gharial eggs are usually eaten by predators like jackals and birds of prey, but this year the local community made proactive efforts – including monitoring and building fences – to protect them, he said.
The 39-year-old, from Delhi, India, said: ‘As I approached, the shoreline was black as young Gharials stood like tanks in perfect symmetry.
‘I did not expect to see an army of young hatchlings that refused to fit in a single frame. It was spectacular.’x
A female adult gharial can lay between 10 to 60 eggs after one pregnancy. The hatchlings will then stay in their eggs for 70 days before venturing out into the world, accompanied by their mother for several months.
At birth, gharials measure a top length of 15.4 inches, significantly larger than other crocodiles. They won’t even begin to fully mature until they are four years old.
For some, it takes until they are 10 to reach adulthood.
Gharials are a genus of Asian crocodiles distinguished by their long, thin snouts. The animal once populated South Asia but now are now only found in India and Nepal.
While an adult gharial’s diet is fish, the young will also feast on insects, crustaceans and frogs.