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French Farm Offers Hope For Endangered Asian Crocs

The French facility now has 500 crocodiles (pictured), from nine species, living amid tropical vegetation in greenhouses that are heated from waste energy generated by a nearby uranium enrichment plant.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jun 09, 2006
A French crocodile farm said Thursday it had stepped up efforts to breed one of the world's most endangered species, the Indian ghavial, with the hope of ultimately returning animals to their habitat in South Asia.

The Pierrelatte Crocodile Farm, in Pierrelatte, southern France, said it had now moved six ghavials to an artificial river, with the hope that the crocodiles will breed once they reach maturity five or six years from now.

The six reptiles were a gift from the Chitwan Nature Reserve in southern Nepal in 2000 and now measure about three metres (10 feet) long.

The slender-snouted crocodile, which grows up to six metres (20 feet) in length, inhabits muddy rivers in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal, such as the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Irrawaddy and Mahanadi.

As few as 2,000 ghavials are now left in the wild. Their numbers have been drastically reduced by fishermen, who see the crocodiles as competitors for fish, and by the consumption of their eggs, which are laid in nests on the river banks and are harvested by villagers.

"Officially, there are about 400 ghavials in Nepal, but I would say the figure is much closer to 150," the farm's technical director, Samuel Martin, who has close ties with the Chitwan reserve, told AFP.

The farm was set up in 1994 by two Frenchmen, Luc and Eric Fougeirol, who have a passion for crocodiles.

The facility now has 500 crocodiles, from nine species, living amid tropical vegetation in greenhouses that are heated from waste energy generated by a nearby uranium enrichment plant.

It will host a congress of world crocodile specialists from June 19-24, organised by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Source: Agence France-Presse

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