ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown


News and research about endangered species from around the world
Extinction Countdown Home

DNA tests find “extinct” Siamese crocodile

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



Siamese crocodileFor nearly 20 years, the critically endangered Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) has been considered nearly extinct in the wild, victimized by habitat loss and poaching. A small population was found in Cambodia in 2000 and, until now, it was believed that, at most, 250 of the rare crocodiles existed in the world.

But recently, conservationists became aware of a new population of Siamese crocodiles, all of which were already living in captivity at Cambodia’s Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. According to researchers from Fauna & Flora International (FFI), this means there is hope of creating a captive-breeding program to save the Siamese crocodile from extinction.

The newly discovered crocs were originally suspected to be hybrids of multiple crocodile species. But conservationists managed to wrestle all 69 crocs living at the center (not an enviable job) to obtain DNA samples. Testing proved that 35 of the 69 animals were purebred Siamese, including six adults and 29 juveniles and hatchlings.

“This could provide a critical lifeline for the long-term preservation of this critically endangered species,” Phnom Tamao Director Nhek Ratanapech said in a prepared statement.

“For the first time in Cambodia, we have a captive population of animals that we know 100 percent are purebred Siamese crocodiles,” Adam Starr, who manages the Cambodian Crocodile Conservation Program, told the Associated Press. The program is a joint effort of the Cambodian government and FFI.

FFI and other conservation groups will now help the staff at Phnom Tamao to come up with a breeding program that could yield new crocodiles as early as next year. If successful, they will also work with the IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group to release Siamese crocodiles back into the wild once the offspring have reached two years of age.

Siamese crocodiles were hunted into near-extinction in the mid–20th century due to their highly prized skin, which is much softer than that of other crocodile species. Researchers knew that some hybrid crocs on Cambodian farms had Siamese DNA because they had long ago been crossbred with other crocodile species to produce larger, faster-growing, softer-skinned animals for commercial exploitation. This is the first time that purebred Siamese crocodiles have been found among any hybrids anywhere in Cambodia.
Image: Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis). Photo courtesy Photo8.com

Tags:





Rights & Permissions

Comments 2 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. Grasshopper1 1:43 pm 12/13/2009

    How do people know if a creature is truly extinct? Many animals, such as the coelocanth, have been thought "extinct", but then people found a population or live specimen years later.

    Link to this
  2. 2. dnaworldwide 1:06 am 08/10/2010

    Hey!!!
    I enjoyed reading your blog as it provided me with great information. "dna-worldwide" also assist people on their request. Paternity test conducted here are confidential, safe and trustworthy. If you need to conduct paternity test then "dna-worldwide" may lend a hand for you.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X