Cambodia’s crocodile farmers and conservationists forge unlikely alliance

With Siamese crocodiles on the brink of extinction in the wild, conservationists are turning to Southeast Asia’s crocodile farms for help – despite their role in driving the species’ disappearance.

A crocodile bellows as a rope is hooked around its teeth and pulled. After the reptile is heaved out of a cool concrete pool onto sun-cooked pavement, a wrangler steps on its snout and binds its jaw shut, the crocodile’s bellows turning to hisses.

Within an hour, more than 20 crocodiles are tied up and piled into the bed of a truck. These are Siamese crocodiles, some of more than 2,500 at a farm in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. Cambodia’s crocodile farms breed and sell live crocodiles, often to buyers in China, Thailand and Vietnam, where they are harvested to make crocodile leather and other products.

But the animals being collected today are not destined for sale or slaughter. Instead, they are a donation from the farm to conservationists trying to save the last wild populations of Siamese crocodiles in Cambodia.

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