Nine Siamese Crocodiles Hatch at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fisheries Administration (FiA) announced today that the eggs of nine Siamese crocodiles have hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre (KKRCC).

According to a WCS' press release, on June 28, 2017, a nest containing 19 Siamese crocodile eggs was found in the Sre Ambel district of Koh Kong province. At the time, conservationists from FiA, WCS and local communities were searching for signs of wild crocodiles in the area. The nest was collected when discovered so it could not be poached or predated. Ultimately, the eggs were moved to the KKRCC where they were protected for six weeks.

I am so excited to see these hatchlings: It is the first time I have taken care of them since arriving the centre, said Ms. Tun Sarorn, caretaker of Royal turtles and Siamese crocodiles at the KKRCC. Before seeing them, I was surprised to hear their voices from inside the eggs. It was amazing, and I felt so happy because I realised they are coming out. I will feed them all in the next few days with small fish and frogs.

These hatchlings mark a good start for the KKRCC that is aimed at breeding reptile species in the future, and also very good news for Siamese crocodile conservation in Cambodia because their wild numbers are declining, said Mr. Som Sitha, WCS' Technical Advisor for the Sre Ambel Conservation Project.

The hatchlings will be kept at the KKRCC for the next few years until they are large enough to survive in the wild. At that time, they will be released.

We will take care of these hatchlings until they are able to survive in nature on their own. We will then release some to the wild, and others will be kept for breeding, Mr. Sitha said.

The Siamese crocodile faces many threats to their survival. In Cambodia, threats include illegal hunting of adults and hatchlings, and collecting of eggs to supply crocodile farms in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, especially during the last two decades. Other threats are habitat degradation, decrease of natural food supply, and weak law enforcement.

Listed on IUCN's Red List as Critically Endangered, the global population of Siamese crocodiles is declining at an alarming rate. This species lives only in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The total population is around 410 wild adults, of which 100-300 live in Cambodia, making it the most important country for the conservation of this species.

KKFCC is a new purpose-built reptile breeding and conservation centre in Mondul Seima district of Koh Kong province. It represents a joint effort between FiA and WCS to conserve reptile species, including Critically Endangered Royal turtles and Siamese crocodiles. Hatchlings from protected nests are taken into captivity where they are raised until they are several years old, at which time they have a better chance of surviving in the wild.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press