Monday, 30 October 2023, 10:28
Animals played important roles in ancient Egypt. Some, like the big cats, were turned into exotic pets and became the symbols of royalty, others, like the hippopotamuses, were feared and worshipped in equal parts, and the same was true of crocodiles. These large reptiles were revered for their strength and danger, which made them a great religious and mythological symbol: the god Sobek. However this fascination did not prevent the large populations of crocodiles that inhabited the Nile from disappearing due to uncontrolled hunting in the first half of the 20th century. Now the protection provided, the implementation through different national legislations in Egypt and international trade conventions such as the recognised CITES scheme, the recovery of the species is a reality.
Outside Egypt, there are many centres working on the conservation of this species, protecting it from further danger. Among them is Bioparc Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, a park that has recently received Kraken, a new male specimen. At 350 kilos and 3.30 metres long, he now forms a group with two females: Úrsula and Lucifer. Both have earned their names due to their character and continual confrontations. "Now the arrival of this male has managed to calm the relationship between the two and the group coexists in a totally peaceful way", the centre pointed out.
Nile crocodiles are not part of any conservation programme coordinated by European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), but the species is listed in Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES regulates the trade in this reptile, its sale and purchase, and its use for meat and skins.
Currently, climate change, desertification of the areas where they live and illegal trade are their main threats. "If sea levels continue to rise, mouths become salinised, low rainfall and rising average temperatures increase the evaporation of freshwater bodies (rivers, shrinking lakes) and swampy areas become desertified. To these phenomena, we have to add the uncontrolled exploitation of river ecosystems by humans", explained Rosa Martínez, veterinarian at Bioparc Fuengirola.
"The species should have the same number of years of evolution left as it has on the face of the earth. It is a prehistoric species. It will depend, as always, on how much damage humans do in their natural habitat," she added.
As with any transfer, Bioparc Fuengirola activated a system to guarantee the animal's wellbeing - including a team accompanying the animal throughout the journey.
"Moving a male of this size always involves a lot of resources, both human and technical. We needed the help of the entire park team. In addition, this transfer was even more delicate, as we had to use a crane with the capacity to move the large crate and the weight of the crocodile. It was quite a challenge," explained Milagros Robledo, head of Herpetology.
Kraken has adapted perfectly to the Bioparc facilities and the rest of the group. Now the technical team will continue to observe his behaviour, as well as Ursula's and Lucifer's to ensure that everything is going well. The main difficulties in caring for crocodiles are often conflicts and maintaining a stable temperature in their facilities. It is essential that the water temperature is also maintained during the winter. "They are cold-blooded animals and do not regulate their temperature. For this reason, in winter we must keep their pools heated to between 22 and 23C", she added .
The Nile crocodile is just one of the two hundred species that live at Bioparc Fuengirola. Of these, more than forty are part of schemes coordinated by EAZA through which the animal park works on the protection and conservation of endangered species.
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