Thailand Government Calls for Siamese and Saltwater Crocodile Protection to be Downgraded

With an increasing number of Australian officials keen to permit the culling of Saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory in a bid to reduce the risk of fatal crocodile attacks, it seems that Crocodilians in south-east Asia are going to be threatened by a two-pronged attack.  The Fisheries Department of the Thailand Government is hoping to gain support for a proposal to ease restrictions on crocodile exports.

Officials will try to get support from members of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to downgrade the status of two species of crocodiles so that the country can continue to export goods made from crocodiles.  The Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) grows to lengths in excess of three metres and it was once relatively widespread in south-east Asia, but now it is critically endangered with scientists estimating that there may be only a few wild Siamese crocodiles left in Thailand.  Siamese crocodiles are bred extensively in captivity and along with the Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), the Fisheries Department of the Thailand Government are trying to get them downgraded to Appendix II from the much more restricted Appendix I status.

At the moment, international trade in these two species of reptile is severely restricted, however, the 16th international CITES conference being held in Bangkok (Thailand) over the next two weeks will give the officials the opportunity to press their case.

There are something like 800 commercial crocodile farms in the country, the sale of crocodile skin, meat and crocodile related products can help to earn Thailand valuable export dollars to help support the economy.  For the proposal to be passed, a two-thirds majority of CITES members needs to be obtained.  However, concerns have been raised about the proposal, for example, there are very few wild crocodiles left in the country and any lifting of trade embargoes could lead to the highly vulnerable wild crocodile population being exploited, ultimately leading to their extinction.

Note

In a series of votes taken on Friday (8th March) the proposal put forward by the Fisheries Department was defeated.  Both the Saltwater and Siamese crocodiles will retain their Appendix I status.

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