Dwarf crocodile rescue
A dwarf crocodile poses in a local dugout canoe in which it was chaperoned to safety by a team of Nouabale-Ndoki National Park eco-guards. The crocodile was confiscated at a roadblock near Makao in the north of the Republic of Congo. Several check points have been set up on the area’s road network to increase the enforcement of Congolese wildlife laws in the areas surrounding Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. The aim is to set up a conservation buffer zone around the park to deal with the expanding threats to wildlife, nested on the park periphery. The crocodile was bound and well hidden in a flour sack on the back of a fisherman’s motorbike upon discovery by the guards.
Dwarf crocodiles are partially protected under Congolese law, meaning that special permits are required to hunt them, and hunting is restricted to certain areas and time periods. The fisher in question was without permit for this crocodile and as such it was confiscated. The team looked after it for several days until the next patrol headed north and carried the little crocodile upstream, deeper into the dense forest, releasing him well beyond the fishing zone.
Little is known about the impact that increasing exploitation is having on dwarf crocodile populations, but the prevalence of this species on the bushmeat market suggests that numbers may be falling.
Crocodile meat is a widely eaten and sought after protein source in the Republic of Congo. As road networks expand in the north of the country, human settlements are spreading further into the forests thus increasing the demand for bushmeat as a food source in once remote regions. At present two of the three species of crocodiles found in Congo, the Nile crocodile and slender-snouted crocodile, are completely protected making their exploitation illegal. Little is known about the impact that increasing exploitation is having on dwarf crocodile populations, but the prevalence of this species on the bushmeat market suggests that numbers may be falling. As a result every opportunity to rescue and rehabilitate these crocodiles is pursued.