An expert in Iran’s Environment Protection Organization says poaching and habitat loss have placed the three-meter Persian crocodile in danger of extinction.
“Persian crocodiles are pushed to the brink of extinction by two factors: poaching and habitat loss. The reason they are hunted almost to extinction in the wild is that their skin is soft enough to produce crocodile skin products,” Mansour Heidari said.
The crocodiles are native to Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. Heidari pointed out that measures are being taken to save the endangered carnivorous reptiles, among them the creation of a crocodile nursery in Dargas district of Chabahar port city.
“Eggs are collected from wild nests to be hatched and reared at the farm. The hatchlings will be released into the wild once they are two years old. The aim of the proposed breeding program is to increase the number of mature animals in the wild so that they would no longer face extinction,” Heidari said.
Persian crocodiles, also know as mugger crocodiles, can be found in the southeastern part of Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
The reptiles are found in lakes, rivers and marshes. They are also known to thrive in man-made reservoirs and irrigation canals.
Experts now believe there are between 200 and 300 Persian crocodiles living in the wild in southeastern Iran.