About Them: American Crocodiles are the crocodiles of the Americas. They range from the top of South America through Central America and the Caribbean Islands and into North America via Florida. They have are often mistaken for Alligators, the Wild Kratts have a pretty excellent episode explaining all the differences, but the easy one to me is their teeth. An Alligator has what looks like an overbite, with mouth closed you can’t see their bottom teeth and with a Crocodile you can see top and bottom teeth when their moth is closed. Crocodiles also need a brackish water verses fresh water for habitat. This is the main reason they struggle to survive in Florida while Alligators flourish. There is a much smaller system of just right water for breeding and living.
Their plight: The Crocodile is actually listed only as Threatened in the US now although, it maintains the Endangered listing internationally. They have been struggling because of capture for their hides and habitat loss through human development and drainage programs that change water and salinity levels into a danger zone. This is a species at high risk as climate change continues. Sea level rise will have an affect on where they breed causing water and salinity level problems as well.
What we should consider: While the Crocodile population is seeing increase in population, proof that the Endangered Species Act has again succeeded, leaving them on the list is valuable. While the Endangered Species Act is there to bring a species back from almost extinction it also sets up laws that drastically limit negative human interactions, hunting and habitat loss.
No matter how many people decide to be for animals there are enough people on earth that there will always be people that don’t go with conservation for whatever reason. Laws are needed to keep these people in check. Also, if you move to a new state and want to build a home the local laws help you know what parameters are safe for humans and native species. It is important to not always see laws as enforced limits, but guides to safety. Some have truly been put in place with thought and care. It is all about our perception of them to realize they are good verse bad.
Protecting a species like an apex predator has an additional benefit. If you are protecting the crocodiles habitat you are also protecting numerous other species that benefit. I chose this species because they are on the 5 year check list to see if their status can be changed, this means possible delisting which would remove funding for support. It seems best if it stays on the list. We have to accept that even as we bring a species back from extinction there are some species we will need to always leave on the list because of our group inability to continue safe environmental practices without laws and enforcement stating what is and is not ok.
What is being done: Maintenance on crocodile populations, tracking of the animals present: breeders, young, sub adults, adults. Protections on habitat. Laws that make it illegal to trade this animal or any of its parts. While the American Crocodile sees enforcement in the US that is not as wide spread farther south throughout the rest of its range.
How to help: Do not purchase Crocodile made products. Perhaps there is a safe method, but I would error on not buying it. Continue bringing awareness.
Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land, and waterways. As the American Crocodile is on the list of animals to have their status changed, share your support to keep it protected. Support locally.
Support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]