Critically endangered Siamese crocodile eggs hatched in Cambodia

New Delhi: The US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on Wednesday announced that eggs of nine critically endangered Siamese crocodiles have been hatched in Cambodia.

Listed on International Union for Conservation of Nature`s (IUCN) red list as critically endangered, the global population of Siamese crocodiles is declining at an alarming rate.

These species live only in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The total population is around 410 wild adults, of which 100-300 live in Cambodia, making it the most important country for the conservation of these species.

“I am so excited to see these hatchlings. It is the first time I have taken care of them since arriving at the center,” an official statement quoting Tun Sarorn, caretaker at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center, said.

On June 28, a nest containing 19 Siamese crocodile eggs was found in the Sre Ambel district of Koh Kong Province.

At that time, conservationists from Cambodia`s Fisheries Administration, WCS and local communities were searching for signs of wild crocodiles in the area. The nest was collected when discovered so it could not be poached or predated.

Ultimately, the eggs were moved to the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center where they were protected for six weeks.

“Finding the first nest in over 10 years on the Sre Ambel is encouraging as it indicates they are still there and reproducing,” Lonnie McCaskill, global crocodile expert and WCS`s Assistant Director of Prospect Park Zoo, said.

The Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center is a new purpose-built reptile breeding and conservation center in Mondul Seima district of Koh Kong Province.

The hatchlings will be kept at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center for the next few years until they are large enough to survive in the wild. At that time, they will be released.

The Siamese crocodile faces many threats to their survival.

In Cambodia, threats include illegal hunting of adults and hatchlings, and collecting of eggs to supply crocodile farms in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand especially during the last two decades.

Other threats are habitat degradation, decrease of natural food supply and weak law enforcement.