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Rare Baby Crocs Released into Wild – Yahoo! News

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Rare Baby Crocs Released into Wild – Yahoo! News.

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Philippine town mourns largest captive crocodile – Yahoo! News

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Philippine town mourns largest captive crocodile – Yahoo! News.

Saltwater Crocodiles: Should limited hunting be allowed?

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It has come to my attention recently that Australia is considering the idea of opening trophy hunting for 50 saltwater crocodiles a year for a two year trial period. As such I have decided to take a temporary break from my Africa theme. Whether this proposal will pass remains to be seen but I can see this being a very interesting, and likely controversial, topic to follow once the public starts sharing their opinions. The most important opinion, that of the local Aborigines, is unknown. The majority of saltwater crocodiles are found on Aboriginal land so it is important that wildlife officials discuss their proposal with the local people before moving forward with this.

However, some groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have already spoken out against this as being inhumane and needless killing.

“There is no possible conservation benefit to be derived from the killing of crocodiles for      trophies, nor does it provide a means of controlling problem crocodiles,” said RSPCA Australia chief scientist Bidda Jones..

But what are the facts on saltwater crocodiles and this issue of hunting crocodiles in Australia?

Remnants of the dinosaurs this particular species of crocodile can be found in the more tropical, northern regions of Australia. These are some of the largest crocodiles in the world with record sizes of 7 meters in length and nearly one ton in weight, although average crocodiles measure 5 meters and weigh in around 1,000 pounds (National Geographic). They also have  a peculiar habit of leaping out of the water, just a little fun fact for you.

As for conservation of the species they have been protected since the 1970s when they were nearly wiped out due to the value of their skins in fashion (Oz Magic). Now, after roughly 40 years of protection their numbers are estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 individuals worldwide (National Geographic) with nearly 150,000 of those in Australia (The Telegraph). Numbers are so high that Australia’s current management plan has 500 crocodiles culled each year as a sustainable quota.

The 50 individuals to be hunted are to be taken as part of the 500 already on quota, thus there will not be any additional impact on crocodile numbers. However, these 50 would benefit conservation by providing funds for further conservation efforts and bringing jobs to rural areas. So in my opinion this is a no brainer. If the 50 allocated are already marked to be culled why not let the wildlife departments and local communities benefit from it?

References:

National Geographic-    http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/saltwater-crocodile/

Oz Magic-    http://ozmagic.homestead.com/australiansaltwatercrocodiles.html

The Telegraph-    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9330981/Australia-considers-crocodile-trophy-hunting-plan.html