Long snout with teeth, scales, four legs, long tail.
A lesser-known member of the crocodilian family, the Siamese crocodile is an animal that scientists would like to get to know better-and protect. Little is known about its natural history, though we know that like other crocodilians they eat fish and other creatures, they live in the water (in this case freshwater ecosys-tems like rivers and swamps) and the females build egg mounds. This animal is tied to the history of Cambodia as statues of Siamese crocodiles have been found in ancient Angkorian temples.
The Siamese crocodile appears to breed during the wet season, between April and May. A female will lay 20-50 eggs in an egg mound and guard them until they hatch. The mother will then carry the babies to the water gently in her mouth and then leave them to their fate.
is a misconception that these animals are dangerous to humans. They
do compete with humans for food, and it would be inadvisable to encroach
on a Siamese crocodile's personal space, but there is no record of a
Siamese crocodile ever intentionally attacking a human unprovoked. Incidents
have occurred where humans were killed by Siamese crocodiles, but these
creatures do not actively seek to hunt humans. Siamese crocodiles actually
help their watery ecosystems by keeping the waterways open, deepening
waterholes during droughts, and providing space for other aquatic animals.
The Siamese crocodile is in terrible trouble. Due to habitat destruction, habitat degradation and hunting for their skins, Siamese crocodiles are in danger of disappearing forever. Hydroelectric dams are their greatest threat, rendering their ranges uninhabitable. There is concern that the dwindling genetic diversity threatens the survival of the species. Today they are restricted to isolated swamps and rivers. The largest population exists in Cambodia, containing about 250 individuals. There are other smaller populations in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, though they may be extinct in Vietnam. They may still cling to life in Myanmar. The highest estimates claim that no more than 5,000 total remain in the wild. While they are declining in the wild, Siamese crocodiles are often farmed in captivity in Cambodia and Thailand.
Fortunately, several programs have been launched to preserve this animal. Surveys are constantly conducted to determine the populations of Siamese crocodiles. Zoos and organizations in the US and Asia are working to breed Siamese crocodiles in captivity and reintroduce them to the wild. The path to recovery will be long and difficult, but the battle has not been lost yet.
If you want to help protect these freshwater beasties, check out these awesome organizations:
Flora and Fauna
International - Information on the Siamese crocodile and what Flora
and Fauna is doing to help:
SOS (Save Our
Species) - an organization that sponsors projects to protect Sia-mese
crocodiles and other endangered species:
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