Conservation Problem

Siamese crocodiles have been wiped out of much of their range in Southeast Asia, and populations reduced by over 80%. Although this was largely due to poaching and collection of crocodiles and eggs for crocodile farms and the skin trade, a new danger is threatening the remaining wild populations. Hydropower development in Cambodia has already resulted in the loss of one wild crocodile population and currently threatens the second largest population in Cambodia, which holds more than 5% of the global breeding population of wild Siamese crocodiles.

 

Earlier this year it was indeed announced that the Areng hydrodam was likely to go ahead with construction possibly starting this year. The hydrodam itself would flood breeding and nursery habitat, but the biggest threat to crocodiles is during the pre-construction phase, when large numbers of people will maigrate to the area. It was during this phase of development of a similar dam that at least one Siamese crocodile was caught by a Chinese dam worker. Aside from poaching and collection, entanglement and drowning in fishing gear presents another threat to Siamese crocodiles and with such an increase in pressure on the area, the Forestry Administration will struggle to deal with these problems. The remaining colonies of Siamese crocodile are so small, and breeding so slowly, that the loss of one population really cannot be afforded.
 

Project Activities

This project aims to capture the threatened crocodile population of the Areng river, an estimated 30 to 40 individuals, and to relocate them to another secure site in the Cardamom Mountains, in suitable Siamese crocodile habitat, away from hydroelectric dams, human settlements and any other threats.

This will first require training staff in advanced capture and handling skills with the support of IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group members.

The relocation being a very challenging operation, it will likely need to take place over more than one dry season. The crocodiles are very wary of humans and as such, capturing them is very difficult! After relocation, the crocodiles will be monitored and protected by our community wardens.
 

Project Outcomes

The project will enable the survival of the second largest population of Siamese crocodile, a top predator and ecological keystone species, through the capture of at least 20 individuals from the Areng Valley and their restoration at the release site. The immediate and long-term success of the translocation will be monitored and evaluated – through individual identification and radio-tracking of released individuals.

In addition, the technical expertise of Cambodian government staff on how to manage wild crocodiles will significantly be enhanced, and the lessons learned from this translocation will inform the future management of Siamese crocodiles.
 

PROJECT NEWS
  • SOS, RAG, Siamese Crocodile, Cambodia
    Capturing Critically Endangered Siamese Crocodiles for translocation into a secure release site
    Usually considered as a last resort solution, species translocation can be contentious but necessary.
  • Areng River, Siamese crocodile
    The Areng River
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