The Savannakhet Provincial Department of Agriculture and Forestry, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has released young crocodiles in the Xe Champhone Wetlands.
Some 47 juvenile crocodiles were released into the wetlands today, Lao National Radio reports.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Sousath Xayakoumman, Head of the Department of Forestry, said that the crocodiles were raised in captivity for two years before they were ready for release into the wild.
“Biodiversity in Laos is under threat from a variety of factors, including deforestation, habitat destruction, and changing water quality or flow rate in streams, rivers or wetlands. Increasing population leads to a growing demand for agricultural land and depletion of natural resources,” said Mr. Sousath.
According to WCS, the Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) once occurred throughout Southeast Asia and Borneo but populations have declined during the past 50 years.
Under a thousand individuals now remain in the wild, with only very small, fragmented populations surviving.
The species has been observed in Laos recently in four southern provinces, with the largest number recorded in Savannakhet and Attapeu Provinces, particularly in the Xe Champhone wetlands in Savannakhet Province.
In 2020, the government of Laos approved a community-based biodiversity conservation project in four target districts in Savannakhet, namely Champhone, Xaybouly, Sonbouly, and Songkhone. The five-year project has been implemented by WCS with support from the European Union (EU), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP).
Mr. Sousath said that the young crocodiles released today under the community-based biodiversity project would add to the population of approximately 100 animals believed to be living in the Xe Champhone wetlands.