The American crocodile is a large carnivorous reptile which can grow to over 15 feet long and up to 2,000lbs. it is an at-risk species throughout its range in North and South America. There is not much information known about their population status except for in the United States, but illegal hunting and habitat loss are two factors that are heavily influencing the populations.
American crocodiles have a global status of “vulnerable”, which means that this species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening the species survival and reproduction are improved. In Florida, the northern most extent of the American crocodile’s range, laws have been put in place to protect the American crocodile and there has been improvement in the reproduction and survivorship which has led them to be state listed as Threatened.
There are 22 species of crocodilians found in the whole world, of these species only 13 of them are crocodiles, and only two crocodilians are found in the United states - the American alligator, and the American crocodile! In the U.S. the American crocodile thrives in the mangrove swamps, bays, and creeks of Florida and tends to spend the winter months further inland than during the summers and breeding season.
The population in Florida, however, is quite a small portion of the crocodiles range. A majority of the population lives in southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the northern portions of South America. A recent push has begun in Jamaica to protect the American crocodile, which is an amazing step for their conservation. One of the tools being used to conserve this species is to educate residents with “Croc-Wise” – an educational outreach program targeting communities and schools. This program will help to inform residents about the natural history of the crocodile, their preferred habitat, and to help prevent human-crocodile conflicts from occurring.
This is a huge step, considering a VICE article written in 2016 (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8ge4yv/the-rogue-conservationist-trying-to-save-jamaicas-alligators) which discusses how decades of development has destroyed much of the habitat for the crocodiles, overfishing has depleted the food sources of the crocodiles, and a surge in demand for crocodile meat has led to increased poaching (which is still a big issue now in 2019). At the time this article was written the government had not shown much interest in protecting the crocodiles and one individual, Lawrence Henriques, who had taken it upon himself to help the crocodiles out in any way he could.
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is managing the American crocodile population in Jamaica. The management includes a crocodile rescue and research operations committee which are a combination of efforts from NEPA the Hope zoo, and several other NGO's and private individuals. Together they relocate nuisance animals, perform research and general assessments of the crocodile population, and formulate policies and strategies to create effective management plans. All conservation efforts will hopefully keep these creatures from going extinct, and create a happy environment for the crocodiles and human beings to be able to coexist peacefully. To learn more about the American crocodile more information can be found at the link provided below:
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