A conservation group said yesterday it had located a nest of the critically endangered Siamese Crocodiles in Koh Kong province last week and had observed that thirteen crocodile eggs had successfully hatched, adding it was looking after ten of the baby crocodiles at a safe site before releasing them back into the wild.
Sam Han, a project officer at Fauna and Flora International, said he had come across a nest with 22 crocodile eggs in the remote Areng Valley in Chumnap commune last weekend and had taken 15 eggs he thought were fertilized from the nest in order to protect them from possible flooding or predators at the nest site.
“I felt very happy because we rarely find a crocodile nest in the wild, just only one this year,” Mr Han said, “The nest could be flooded so we start to move the eggs to a safer place to guard it 24 hours.”
Mr Han said he had returned to the original nest site later and had noticed another three baby crocodiles had successfully hatched.
He added that in 2007 and 2008, FFI had also found Siamese Crocodile nests and had raised several dozen baby crocodiles that were found.
FFI program manager Adam Starr said the 15 eggs found last week were incubated in an artificial nest at a safe site nearby, which is guarded by the local community, and soon after ten of the eggs hatched.
The baby crocodiles were put into a water-filled pen where they will be taken care for about one year before being released back into the wild, he said.
Experts believe there are around 250 Siamese Crocodiles left in the wild in Southeast Asia, the majority of which are located in Cambodia’s remote and jungle-covered Cardamom Mountains, Mr Starr said.
“So to be able to find a nest like this is fairly significant,” he said, adding however, that it takes Siamese Crocodiles 15 years to be able to reproduce and many of the newly hatched crocodiles would not survive that long.
The Areng Valley where the crocodiles were found is “one of the largest and fertile valleys in southwest Cambodia,” according to Mr Starr, but a major hydropower dam has been planned in the valley. Therefore, he said, FFI would consult the government to find possible other locations to release the crocodiles back into the wild.