Deforestation pushes Enriquillo’s crocodiles to the brink of extinction

DOMINICAN TODAY

Santo Domingo.- The Environment Ministry (Semarena) aims to study Enriquillo Lake’s crocodiles to determine their current population and the possibilities of surviving the almost total loss of their habitat, which experts blame on the deforestation and encroaching desertification.

Protected Areas vice minister Eleuterio Martinez the lake’s rising waters buried the croc’s reproduction areas along its shoreline. He said the recent floods have left the crocodiles with only the nesting areas in Cabrito island’s beaches, where 30 hatchings were recently found.

The official noted that when the eggs hatch the mothers ferry their young on their backs to the fresh water springs at the shore, but because of the longer crossing, many fall off and die. “We’re monitoring that species. This Thursday technicians will render a detailed report on the situation and what’s happening there.”

He said crocodiles need special surroundings and sand to nest, and Cabrito island, whose area has been reduced by half, is the only place left to reproduce.

During Enriquillo’s normal volume, of around 40 meters below sea level, the islets La Playita and Arenita are also used by the females to lay eggs, but the recent rise has placed them underwater.

“The lake has grown enormously, because from 205 square kilometers it now has almost 400 square kilometers,” he said, adding that the numbers of the crocodiles, on the endangered species list, isn’t known.

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Filed under biodiversity, conservation, environment, extinction, nature, wildlife, zoology

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