Photographer captures father crocodile with dozens of babies on its back

Photographer captures father crocodile with dozens of babies on its back

If you need any proof that Jurassic World ain't got nothing on the real world, then look no further.

Expert wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee was lucky (or unlucky) enough to capture this once-in-a-lifetime moment in India's National Chambal Sanctuary.

The breathtaking shot shows a freshwater gharial - a species of fish-eating crocodile - lurking in the waters with dozens of its babies riding on its back.

Seriously, every time you look at the snap (crocodile pun), you just see more and more reptiles.

Mukherjee's picture is now a favorite in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) competition.

Speaking to BBC News, Mukherjee explained: "This male had mated with seven or eight females, and you can see that it was very much involved.

"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."

According to National Geographic, the freshwater gharial is a critically endangered species, and can grow anywhere between 12.25ft-15.5ft in length and reach 2,000lbs in weight.

They are easily distinguished by their long, thin snouts, which have a large "bulb" on the end - reminiscent of a round earthenware pot, or "ghara" in the Hindi language - hence the name.

Patrick Campbell, the senior curator of reptiles at London's Natural History Museum, which runs the prestigious WPY competition, said of the gharial's snout: "It's a structure that enables vocal sounds to be amplified.

"Other crocs carry their young about in their mouths. Very carefully, of course! 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."

Where there once was around 20,000 of the crocodiles across South Asian, it is now believed there is less than 1,000 mature individuals left - and 75% of these are concentrated in the Uttar Pradesh sanctuary.

Construction of dams and the removal of boulders and sands have resulted in reptile's natural habitat being restricted.

Each of this gharial's offspring would have to make it to maturity in order to breed.