Animal conservation experts and crocodile lovers alike should be excited to hear that perhaps the most elusive crocodile species in the world just received a small, but substantial population boost.
The Siamese crocodile is one of the rarest crocodile species in existence, and nine hatchlings have just broken free of their egg shells at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC) in Cambodia.
Image Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society and Fisheries Administration via AP
“I am so excited to see these hatchlings: It is the first time I have taken care of them since arriving the center,” said KKRCC’s Tun Sarorn, who will be taking care of the hatchlings.
”Before seeing them, I was surprised to hear their voices from inside the eggs. It was amazing, and I felt so happy because I realized they are coming out. I will feed them all in the next few days with small fish and frogs.”
The nine eggs were part of a 19-count set discovered inside a wild nest by conservationists at the end of June. The eggs were in danger of being disturbed by poachers or predators, so the conservationists relocated the eggs to a safe location where they could hatch in peace.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Siamese crocodile as ‘critically endangered’ on the organization’s Red List. Only about 410 of the animals are thought to exist in the wilderness today.
These reduced numbers are the result of illegal hunting, egg-hoarding, food issues, and habitat loss, among other things. The bulk of the remaining population is thought to exist in Cambodia, but the crocodiles also reside in neighboring countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Worthy of note, this was the first Siamese crocodile nest the conservationists happened upon in more than six years of searching, and the first to be found in the Sre Ambel District of Koh Kong Province in more than a decade, which speaks for the rarity of this miraculous event.
The hatchlings won’t be kept in captivity forever; most of them, anyway. Many will be released into the wild after they’ve grown large enough to live on their own and the risk of predation drops; a few others will remain at the conservation center to assist in a breeding program, which could help the elusive crocodile species multiply.
Conservationists will continue looking for Siamese crocodile nests to scoop up before the bad guys get to them, and the KKRCC will do their part in breeding the reptiles.
Perhaps there’s a light at the end of this dark tunnel after all.