Endangered Crocodile Hatchlings
Found in Lao PDR
Photo credit: MWBP/WCS:
20 May 2005 (Media Release)
A survey team’s
discovery of a small breeding
population of Siamese Crocodiles marks the
first time that hatchlings of this species
have been observed in Lao PDR.
colony, discovered in Savannakhet Province,
southern Lao PDR, is a great contribution
to Lao celebrations for the International
Day of Biological Diversity (22 May 2005).
Lao Crocodile Survey us a joint project of
the Department of Forestry, Living Aquatic
Resources Research Centre (LARReC), National
Agriculture and Forestry Resource Institute
(NAFRI), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
and the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme
Survey results have already revealed
some exciting findings. Seven crocodile hatchlings
were observed in a small swamp in Savannakhet
Province, March 2005. Two hatchlings were
caught and measured for scientific research,
and then released. An old crocodile nest
was also found. From
March to May 2005, 20 wetlands in central
and southern Lao PDR were surveyed. The team
confirmed that crocodiles occur in four sites,
and local communities reported that crocodiles
still occur in another six sites.
The harmless Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus
siamensis) is among the world’s
most threatened crocodilians, and is ranked
as “Critically Endangered” by
IUCN - The World Conservation Union. It is
now very rare or extinct in Southeast Asia.
The current crocodile surveys are the first
detailed surveys to be undertaken for the
species in Lao PDR.“The Siamese Crocodile is one of
four flagship species of the Mekong Wetlands
Biodiversity Programme, and the Lao survey
is making a great contribution to species
conservation through the development of science-based
approaches,” said Peter-John Meynell,
UNDP Team Leader of the MWBP.
still occur in central and southern Lao PDR,
but most populations are now small and fragmented.
Some local populations may be extinct, with
remaining crocodile populations under threat. “The
discovery of a crocodile breeding population
in Savannakhet Province is internationally
important for conserving this species, especially
as no other breeding sites have been confirmed
yet. Urgent efforts and funding are needed
to protect this site and propagate this species
in the future,” said Mark Bezuijen,
WCS biologist for the crocodile programme.
surveys are also raising awareness of the
species among local agencies, and forestry
staff who accompany surveys are trained in
crocodile survey techniques. “Crocodile
conservation is a high priority of the Department
of Forestry, and the government is now planning
conservation activities with local communities
in Savannakhet to protect the breeding site.
Surveys will continue to help conserve this
endangered species,” said Mr. Chanthone
Phothitay, LARReC, Government of Lao PDR.
current Lao surveys will end in June 2005.
After June, new funding will be essential
to develop a national conservation plan for
the species. Conservation actions in the
breeding site in other areas such as Savannakhet
and Attapeu (where the MWBP Lao demonstration
site is located) are needed. Surveys are
also currently being undertaken in Viet Nam
and conservation initiatives implemented
in Cambodia, as part of MWBP’s flagship
species conservation action planning for
the Mekong region.