Crocodile conservation in Jamaica

American crocodile. Image: Sergey Yeliseev.

Jamaica’s National Environment and Planning Agency has launched a programme to improve the conservation status of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), which is a protected species in Jamaica. The initiative focuses on changing people’s attitudes to and interactions with crocodiles:

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is moving to help conserve the American Crocodile species, the largest native reptile in Jamaica, which has come under increasing population threat from habitat loss and poaching.

NEPA has embarked on a ‘Croc-Wise’ educational outreach targeting communities and schools around crocodile habitats to develop an appreciation for the reptile in youth and community members.

“As our population is growing, more and more communities are encroaching into wetland habitats, which is causing a disturbance, and it is resulting in conflict. A lot of people have a view that ‘we need to kill it before it kills us’, so when people run into crocodiles they do not have the most suitable reactions,” said Fauna Environmental Officer in the Ecosystems Management Branch at NEPA, Treya Picking, adding that the American Crocodile “is one of the shyest species of crocodiles”.

The crocodile, which is featured in multiple ways in Jamaican culture, also plays an important role in the environment, Picking noted.

“In terms of environmental importance, it’s our apex predator. They control the balance in the ecosystem, so if you remove the top predator it will have a very negative effect. It would affect the fish stock and the quality of the wetland habitat. People really do need to stop poaching, as it is having very negative effects on the population, and if trends continue it could lead to the extinction of the species in Jamaica, which we would not want at all,” she said.

Find out more in the complete article Efforts Being Made to Protect the Under Threat American Crocodile in Jamaica at Caribbean360.

The American crocodile, which is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, is protected by law in Jamaica.

[Image: Sergey Yeliseev]

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