Camera captures rare Siamese crocodile

Camera captures rare Siamese crocodile

Sighting of 'critically endangered' reptile in Kaeng Krachan park only the second in a decade

A camera trap photo released by Kaeng Krachan National Park shows a freshwater Siamese crocodile, a critically endangered species, at Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi. (Kaeng Krachan National Park via AFP)
A camera trap photo released by Kaeng Krachan National Park shows a freshwater Siamese crocodile, a critically endangered species, at Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi. (Kaeng Krachan National Park via AFP)

PHETCHABURI: A critically endangered Siamese crocodile has been spotted for only the second time in a decade in the country’s largest national park, according to photos released on Saturday.

The freshwater reptile — snapped by camera traps sunning itself at Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi near the border with Myanmar — was once ubiquitous across Southeast Asia, but its numbers have plummeted in the region.

It is currently listed as critically endangered on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Park officials estimate only about 20 remain in the wild because of hunting and habitat loss, but on Saturday the nature reserve shared a rare spot of good news.

The crocodile — never seen before by officials — was captured by cameras slithering out of the water, before it parked itself on the river bank open-jawed under the sun.

The footage was captured in December and is “proof that Kaeng Krachan National Park is an important area for wildlife conservation”, said Manoon Prewsoongnern, a park manager who works with the World Conservation Society.

The crocodile is estimated to be about 3 metres long, he said, adding that this is only the second sighting of the species in the past decade.

“The Siamese crocodile is a predator, but it is one of the first victims of environmental corrosion, so the sighting … is also evidence that the national park’s environment is still pristine,” Manoon said.

The endangered crocodile is highly sought after by poachers, who supply eggs and adult reptiles to farms around the region, where their skins are turned into luxury belts, shoes and handbags.


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