Nearly 50 eggs of the critically endangered Siamese Crocodile were found in two nests early this week by conservationist from the Fisheries Administration, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and local nest protection team at two wetlands at Koh Kong Province in Sre Ambel River system, according to a release by WCS.
WCS Technical Advisor for the Sre Ambel Conservation Project, Som Sitha said that in order to protect these nearly 50 eggs from seasonal flooding and illegal collection, the nest protection team has relocated all of the eggs to artificial nests in a village in Sre Ambel District, where they will be cared for until they hatch, which is likely to be within 65–80 days.
He said that after hatching, all of the baby crocodiles will be immediately released into the wild.
Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) is listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, because its global population is declining at an alarming rate. This species lives only in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and possibly Malaysia, Myanmar, and Indonesia. An estimated 100-300 wild adult Siamese Crocodiles live in Cambodia, making it the most important country for the species.
“In 2017, the team found one Siamese Crocodile nest of 19 eggs, which was the first nest for many years, and in 2018, they found three nests of 78 eggs.” Mr Sitha noted. “Protecting the wetlands in the Sre Ambel River system is vital to ensure the survival of this important reptile species,”
Mr Sitha added that Siamese Crocodile face many threats to its survival. In Cambodia, threats include habitat loss and illegal hunting of adults, and collecting of hatchlings and eggs to supply crocodile farms in Cambodia and Thailand.
In Hul, Deputy Director of Fisheries Conservation Department of Fisheries Administration (FiA), said that the Siamese Crocodile is critically endangered and very rare in Cambodia.
“Habitat and nest protection are important to ensure the survival of this species. Egg and hatchling collection is an illegal activity under the Fisheries Law,” said Mr Hul, adding that their habitats are so vulnerable through illegal land grabbing for agriculture. I encourage local community to help conserve the species by not destroying habitat and or collecting eggs and juveniles.