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Sri Lanka to establish crocodile park in Negombo

Comments / 1874 Views / Thursday, 23 June 2011 00:52

Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Department has decided to establish a crocodile park in Muthurajawela marshes situated just south of Negombo, as a way to increase conservation and attract tourists.

The Director General of Wildlife Department Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja said the park would benefit the persons researching the reptiles.

The lagoon, the river mouth and the mangrove in Muthurajawela are considered an ideal surrounding for the reptiles, wildlife officials say.

The Wildlife Director General further said that the park would also be a habitat for destitute crocodiles.

The biggest population of mugger crocodiles in the world is believed to be found in the Yala Block of the Ruhuna National Park.

A recent survey conducted by herpetologist Anslem De Silva, who is also the current Regional Vice Chairman, South Asia and Iran of the Crocodile Specialists Group, IUCN/SSC along with the assistance of the Wild Life Department officials, showed that there are over 500 mugger crocodiles in Yala. De Silva also said that crocodiles are the largest living reptiles in Sri Lanka.

Two species of crocodiles are found in Sri Lanka, the mugger or marsh crocodile, and the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. The crocodiles are also a species which are facing various threats.

In the 20th century crocodiles were extensively hunted for their skins and the hunting ended with introduction of the Fauna and Flora Protection Act of 1964 the large scale persecution was greatly reduced.

Though there are many natural and manmade habitats ideal for crocodiles, the threats (except skin trade) they face yet continue. He also made it a point to mention that to date he has gathered data on over 300 cases of crocodile attacks on humans which occurred in the recent past. These cases were reported from all corners of the island.

The investigations have revealed that most of the attacks were due to mistakes made by the humans themselves.

Explaining on attacks made by crocodiles de Silva said that the crocodile is a very intelligent animal; it observes its prey for days, even months before attacking. It is hoped that crocodiles in human habited areas will be relocated to the park to reduce the instances of attacks and prove sanctuary to the animals.

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