Vanishing crocodiles

According to WWF-Pakistan, crocodile population has seen a significant drop of 30% to 35% over the past two decades

May 20, 2024


In recent years, the marsh crocodile population in Pakistan has experienced a precipitous decline, a trend that wildlife experts attribute to a host of climate change-induced factors. As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns become increasingly erratic, the once-thriving ecosystems that have long been home to these iconic reptiles are undergoing profound transformations, pushing them to the brink of extinction.

According to WWF-Pakistan, the crocodile population has seen a significant drop of 30% to 35% over the past two decades, with current estimates ranging between 700 and 1,000 individuals. At the heart of this decline lie the far-reaching impacts of erratic weather patterns, rising temperatures and habitat fragmentation, which have conspired to disrupt the delicate balance of natural landscapes. From Sindh to Balochistan, these once-thriving habitats are now battlegrounds in a struggle for ecological resilience against the ravages of a changing climate. As marsh crocodile populations dwindle, so too do the ecological services they provide. These reptiles play a vital role in maintaining the health and integrity of their ecosystems, regulating prey populations and contributing to nutrient cycling. Their decline not only jeopardises the biodiversity of Pakistan’s waterways but also undermines the resilience of entire ecosystems.

To combat this decline, climate authorities should prioritise habitat restoration initiatives. Firstly, efforts should be made to restore critical crocodile habitats across the country, focusing on degraded wetlands, rivers and marshes. This includes allocating resources and manpower to restore these habitats, ensuring they provide suitable breeding grounds and prey populations for crocodiles. Additionally, the establishment of dedicated crocodile rescue and rehabilitation centres is essential. These centres should be equipped to handle injured or orphaned crocodiles, providing them with necessary medical care and facilitating their release back into the wild.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2024.

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