Orinoco Crocodile
Orinoco Crocodile

Common name: Orinoco Crocodile
Scientific name: Crocodylus intermedius
Length: 5 meters (can reach up to 7 meters)
Weight: 380 kg (840 lbs.) for males, 200 kg (440 lbs.) for females
Population: Between 250 and 1,500 individuals in the wild
Distribution: In the Orinoco River, in Colombia and in Venezuela
Issue: Severe population fragmentation (isolation), overexploitation – for their meat, their teeth (for their believed medicinal properties) and their eggs
IUCN Red List status: Critically Endangered

The Orinoco Crocodile is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. It is restricted to the middle and lower reaches of the Orinoco River and its tributaries in Venezuela and Colombia. It is a hole-nesting species and the females lay an average clutch size of 38 to 44 eggs. In 1800, the largest male ever was recorded measuring 6.5 metres in length.

The Orinoco Crocodile has an estimated wild population of 1,500 to 2,500 individuals. It was hunted to the brink of extinction for its skin during the 1930s to 60s. Today it is threatened by habitat loss, incidental deaths in fishing nets, illegal hunting for meat and by the collection of eggs and juveniles.

The export of this species is strictly controlled by CITES and individuals occur in several protected areas. There are six breeding/rearing facilities in Venezuela, which have released more than seven thousands of individuals into the wild. As a result, an established population of over 400 individuals, including 31 wild breeding females, is now found at the El Frío Biological Station.

REFERENCES: Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Encyclopedia of Life.

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