The heat is on – and that's great news for rare Siamese crocodiles

phys.org | 7/20/2018 | Staff
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As temperatures soar to record levels across much of the world, many people are complaining that it's hot enough to fry an egg outdoors. Thirty-degree heat may be too much for some, but for others it's just the ticket. Crocodile conservationists in Cambodia have been assiduously checking their own thermometers for the past few weeks, to ensure that it's hot enough to hatch an egg indoors – several clutches of eggs, to be precise. And their devotion as surrogate parents has just reaped spectacular rewards in the shape of 65 Siamese crocodile hatchlings.

The birth of these crocodiles – at a captive-breeding facility in Phnom Penh managed by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in partnership with the Cambodian Forestry Administration – is a momentous event for one of the world's rarest reptiles. Given that the wild population is estimated at a mere 250 mature individuals, this represents a dramatic increase in numbers, and offers a vital lifeline for a species that is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Crocodiles - % - Range - Species - Rediscovery

Siamese crocodiles have disappeared from 99% of their original range and the species was widely believed to be extinct in the wild until its rediscovery during FFI-led surveys in the Cardamom Mountains. This remote area of Cambodia is the reptile's main stronghold, harbouring the majority of the global population, but even here there is very little breeding activity in the wild, not least because the populations are so small and fragmented. At best, surveys have recorded only one or two nests each year. The single wild nest discovered last year by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) staff was the first since 2013.

In view of the constraints facing wild Siamese crocodiles, FFI launched a captive-breeding programme to catalyse the recovery of the species. The first individual to hatch successfully – from a 2012...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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