Crocodile surveys throughout West Africa since 2005 encountered only 49 West African slender-snouted crocodiles, only three of which were adults. The major threat facing this emblematic forested wetland crocodile is its already small population size brought about by historic threats including large-scale habitat loss, illegal hunting for the trade of leather and bushmeat, and conflict with artisanal fisheries. Our work over the past 8 years indicates that these threats have resulted in highly fragmented, reduced populations throughout West Africa. Our project will address the issue of small population size by augmenting and reestablishing wild populations.
To address the problem of small population size we are captive-breeding this species for reintroduction. Reintroductions will largely take place in Ivorian, and other West African, protected areas and in order to secure their future there we are working extensively with the Ivorian national parks agency to ensure they have the capacity to monitor and protect crocodiles through fully functioning national parks and parks staff. Prior to reintroduction we will work extensively with local communities to better understand the on-going threats and how to mitigate them to ensure the success of reintroduced individuals.
Our crocodile captive-breeding and reintroduction project is a long-term initiative that aims to see an increase in slender-snouted crocodiles in Cote d'Ivoire and throughout West Africa that have a sustainable future as a result of reinforced national parks management capacity. Once relocation sites have been identified, we aim to reintroduce 100% of crocodiles captive-produced at the Abidjan National Zoo once they reach they optimal release size of 1 - 1.5 meters total length.