Cheering news out of Cambodia has revealed a relative bumper crop of one of the most endangered crocodilians in the world.
Last week, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that a patrol conducted by its Crocodile Nest Protection Team in cooperation with government officials documented 15 Siamese crocodile hatchlings – each some 30 centimetres long – in a lake in Koh Kong Province’s Sre Ambel district.
It’s an encouraging report, given the sketchy status of the Siamese croc. Designated as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, the reptile exists in perilously low numbers and highly fragmented populations representing the remnants of a once-widespread range in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Habitat loss, overhunting, and the collection of eggs and hatchlings for crocodile farming decimated the species in the 20th century. The Siamese croc was feared extinct in the wild until 2000, when a team with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) discovered a few small populations in the Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia: a wild highland that’s among the country’s great refuges of biodiversity, and where the indigenous Pearic culture venerates the crocodile as a manifestation of ancestors.