The Siamese crocodile is Critically Endangered and has declined by more than 80%, as a result of habitat loss, habitat degradation and collection from the wild to stock crocodile farms for the skin trade. Siamese crocodiles have an important role in the ecosystem, helping to control predatory fish which feed on smaller fish that are of importance to humans. Never known in Cambodia or Laos to attack humans, the Siamese crocodile has been documented to provide care for their young for up to one year after hatching, even feeding them.
In the early 1990's it was reported as virtually extinct in the wild, until the species was re-discovered in Cambodia in 2000, where the majority of the wild population persists. Populations are now so small and fragmented however that the species cannot recover without conservation management. In addition hydropower development is emerging as another more recent threat to sites with Siamese crocodile populations.
Since 2000 FFI and the Forestry Administration have been working with indigenous communities to protect and monitor 3 key breeding colonies of Siamese crocodile and their habitat, this project will continue to support these community sanctuaries. However, recruitment in wild populations is low, so in addition, captive-bred crocodiles need to be released to supplement wild populations and allow the species to recover.
This project will release at least 30 crocodiles and monitor their survival, dispersal and adaptation to the wild. Additionally, five new sites to be utilized by this reintroduction and reinforcement programme will be established as national community crocodile sanctuaries, to provide protection from hydropower development and other threats.
The main project objectives/outcomes are to launch an IUCN- and government-endorsed reintroduction and reinforcement programme for Siamese crocodile in Cambodia. This will entail the release of captive-bred individuals to supplement wild populations.
Secondly it is hoped to strengthen community management of 3 existing crocodile sanctuaries and establish an additional 5 community sanctuaries at the national level by 2014.Finally the project will monitor and evaluate released crocodiles to inform the species recovery programme, through telemetry studies of released individuals, evaluating trends in the status of 4 crocodile populations and understand the impacts of the project on local communities.