JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

 Conservationists Release Critically Endangered Crocodiles In Colombia

20 Orinoco crocodiles reintroduced to El Tuparro Natural National Park

Scientists will monitor crocodiles via radio transmitters

New York (February 12, 2016)—The Critically Endangered Orinoco crocodile recently received a helping hand from conservationists working in Colombia, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Twenty Orinoco crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius) were reintroduced into their natural environment on Tuesday, February 2nd in El Tuparro Natural National Park, a site where an additional 21 crocodiles were released back in May 2015.

The recently released group of crocodiles included twelve females and eight males, ranging between 33 and 43 inches long. Just as the previous group, these reptiles will be carrying radio transmitters to track their movements and monitor their adaptation to their natural environment.

The name given to the selected area was “Crocodile Lagoon.” Located on the right bank of the Tomo River, this location has the essential socio-environmental and logistical properties for the survival of this species.

A biological survey previously conducted in the area confirmed the presence of large predators and abundant wildlife, both of which are indicators of a healthy environment. Some of the species detected included jaguars, pumas, river otters, tapirs and curassows, among others. Additionally, the site has a generous offering of fish, the main food of the Orinoco crocodile.

Another advantage of the “Crocodile Lagoon” is its proximity to Marandúa, an Air Force base located on the opposite bank of the Tomo River, which will not only guarantee the safety of the area, but will also be essential in providing the researchers access to the area for the continued monitoring of the reintroduced crocodiles.

In the case of the Orinoco crocodile, the Fundación Palmarito is one of the ten partner organizations of the PVS, and it has been working to save this reptile since 2011 in partnership with the Casanare Government, Corporinoquia, Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia and Grupo GHL.

This initiative stems from the National Program for the Conservation of the Orinoco Crocodile, created in 1998 by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, along with other organizations.

The intense commercial hunting to which the Orinoco Crocodile was subjected during the second quarter of the previous century—primarily for the sale of its skin—, brought it to its current critically endangered status.

Growing up to 17 feet in length, the Orinoco crocodile is one of the largest crocodilian species in the world. It lives exclusively in the lowlands of the Orinoco basin that straddles both Colombia and Venezuela, and reproduces once a year. Conservationists say that the crocodile’s conservation will ensure the protection of other species, promote the health of rivers and estuaries, and provide a greater opportunity to attract ecotourism.

This reintroduction is part of the Proyecto Vida Silvestre, a program launched in 2014 to protect 10 wildlife species in the Llanos Orientales and Magdalena Medio regions. Proyecto Vida Silvestre is led by WCS Colombia and supported by Ecopetrol and the Fundación Mario Santo Domingo. The project works with ten organizations, one for each species.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.