Rare Crocodile Facing Extinction
The first of a batch of rare crocodile eggs have successfully hatched at a UK wildlife park. This is the first instance of the eggs of a Morelet’s crocodile being incubated and hatching in the country. The happy event took place in the reptile house of the Cotswold Wildlife Park (Oxfordshire, England). The young crocodiles are doing well and enjoying themselves in their special pool, to keep them away from their parents Morticia and Gomez who, might decide to eat them as cannibalism is known in many crocodile species. Zoo staff are hopeful that other eggs will soon hatch and then after a few months the brood will most likely be split up with individual crocs going to other zoos to help in a a Morelet’s crocodile breeding programme.
A number of species of crocodile are listed under international treaties with regards to their conservation status. Although these animals are remarkably hardy, many species have suffered due to loss of habitat and as a result of hunting for their valuable skins. The Mexican crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii), otherwise known as the Central American crocodile or Morelet’s crocodile, after the French naturalist who first recognised this animal as a distinct species, is one such crocodile that has been persecuted over the years.
A native to freshwater habitats of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, this particular crocodile, which can grow to lengths of 4 metres or more, is closely related to the Cuban and the American crocodiles. It has a broad snout and a row of dark bands that run down its flanks, making its skin highly prized. It is very similar in appearance to the now extremely rare Cuban crocodile. Although, attacks by this creature are very infrequent, it is still regarded as highly dangerous and a potential man-eater. A homeless man was attacked by a crocodile (believed to be a Morelet’s crocodile) near the holiday resort of Cancun in Mexico. The man lost his right hand in the attack and is recovering in hospital. Alejandro Lopez was walking near an area of mangroves on the shore of Nichupte lagoon when he was attacked. Police state that there are warning signs indicating the presence of these reptiles and they urge locals and curious tourists to avoid this part of the coast.
Recently, there have been moves to reinstate crocodile hunting in part of the Morelet’s habitat as government officials believe that in certain parts of this crocodile’s territory populations have recovered enough to permit a sustainable hunting programme.