Photo released by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on Aug. 15, 2017 shows Siamese crocodile babies in a container in Koh Kong province, Cambodia. The eggs of nine critically endangered Siamese crocodiles have successfully hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC) in southwest Cambodia's Koh Kong province, a conservationist group said in a joint statement on Tuesday.(Xinhua/WCS)
PHNOM PENH, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The eggs of nine critically endangered Siamese crocodiles have successfully hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC) in southwest Cambodia's Koh Kong province, a conservationist group said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically endangered, the global population of Siamese crocodiles is declining at an alarming rate, said the joint statement released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Cambodia's Fisheries Administration (FiA).
This species lives only in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, it said, adding that the total population is around 410 wild adults, of which 100-300 live in Cambodia, making it the most important country for the conservation of this species.
"I am so excited to see these hatchlings; it is the first time I have taken care of them since arriving at the center," said Tun Sarorn, caretaker of Royal turtles and Siamese crocodiles at the KKRCC.
"Before seeing them, I was surprised to hear their voices from inside the eggs. It was amazing, and I felt so happy because I realized they are coming out. I will feed them all in the next few days with small fish and frogs," she said.
On June 28, 2017, a nest containing 19 Siamese crocodile eggs was found in the Sre Ambel district of Koh Kong province for the first time in over 10 years, and the eggs were moved to the KKRCC where they were protected for six weeks.
"These hatchlings mark a good start for the KKRCC that is aimed at breeding reptile species in the future, and also very good news for Siamese crocodile conservation in Cambodia because their wild numbers are declining," said Som Sitha, WCS's technical advisor for the Sre Ambel Conservation Project.
The hatchlings will be kept at the KKRCC for the next few years until they are large enough to survive in the wild. At that time, they will be released, the statement said.
"We will take care of these hatchlings until they are able to survive in nature on their own. We will then release some to the wild, and others will be kept for breeding," Sitha said.
The Siamese crocodile faces many threats to their survival. In Cambodia, threats include illegal hunting of adults and hatchlings, and collecting of eggs to supply crocodile farms in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, the statement said, adding that other threats are habitat degradation, decrease of natural food supply, and weak law enforcement.
"I am so excited about these hatchlings because Siamese crocodiles are critically endangered, and we can increase their wild numbers," Ouk Vibol, director of Fisheries Conservation Department of Fisheries Administration, said.
"I would like to thank and encourage all stakeholders to help conserve this important species by not hunting, collecting eggs, and destroying its habitat," he said.