15 Baby Chinese Alligators Born in the Wild: New Hope for the Most Threatened of All Crocodilians
10 Years of Hard Work by Conservation Groups
The Wildlife Conservation Society is finally seeing its efforts to save the threatened Chinese alligator pay off (though it's too early to tell if this will lead to a sustainable rebound in the species' population). 15 hatchlings were born in the wild in China, and that might not seem like much, but it represents "10 years of work by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), parent organization of the Bronx Zoo, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Management of the State Forestry Administration of China, and other groups." Read on for the whole story.
The Chinese Alligator Just Took a Tiny Step Back from the Brink...
During a 1999 survey, it was found that only an estimated 130 individuals Chinese alligators were still left, and it was listed as "critically endangered" on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
It was decided that alligators bred in captivity should be re-introduced into the wild: "The first three alligators released in Hongxing Reserve of Xuancheng County in Anhui in 2003 were from the Anhui Research Center of Chinese Alligator Reproduction (ARCCAR). A dozen more followed, traveling from the Bronx Zoo and two other and North American parks to the Changxing Yinjiabian Chinese Alligator Nature Reserve [to ensure maximum genetic diversity]."
Experts tracked the Chinese alligators using radio chips transmitters, and saw that by 2008, the alligators had successfully "hibernated, paired up, and laid eggs." The announcement of the hatchlings was made at the International Congress for Conservation Biology, convened by the Society for Conservation Biology in Beijing, China (July 11–16).
The hatchlings are an important milestone, because they are the first captive-born generation to successfully breed in the wild. More work will be needed by conservation groups to help the Chinese alligator survive, but this is a good start.
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