Slender-snouted Crocodile

Slender Snouted Crocodile

Slender-snouted Crocodile, Crocodylus cataphractus, is a medium sized crocodile distinguished by its very slender snout apparently adapted for its surreptitious movement and ideal for catching fish. Recent DNA and morphological studies suggest the Slender-snouted Crocodile may not belong to the Crocodylus genus, but a monotypic Mecistops genus. The African slender-snouted Crocodile is usually about 2.5 m long. Protective scales present in three or four rows cover the back of its neck. It is far less widespread than the famous Nile crocodile and little is known about it. This highly aquatic species hunt by swimming parallel to the shoreline and curving their tails to trap fish in shallow water. They are found in freshwater habitat in Central and western Africa, showing preference for free flowing streams. Females lay between 12 and 30 eggs, and the eggs hatch after 90 to 100 days of incubation.

The high demand for crocodile skins, meat and body parts for traditional medicine certainly have contributed to the observed decline in their populations in Nigeria. The Enugu Crocodile Pilot Project in which a 32 by 20m fishpond was used was the first attempt to rear crocodiles at the Enugu Zoological garden in 1982. The project is challenged by the high mortality of the crocodiles.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer