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Conservationists say due to poaching crocodile numbers down, not up

Cancun, Q.R. — New reviews have found the crocodile population in Cancun’s lagoon to have drastically decreased mainly due to poaching.

Pablo Navarro, Director of Conservation of the civil association Onca Maya, says that the crocodile population in the Laguna Nichupté has fallen by as much as half mostly due to the poaching that exists in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

He says they conduct surveillance circuits on a regular basis, having found only four or five crocodiles residing where normally, there are 10 as in previous years.

Navarro says that the species in the lagoon, Crocodylusacutus and Crocodylosmoreleti, are protected by the NOM-059 of the SEMARNAT, adding that their association does not have the necessary support to protect them.

He says that in 2013, they began a partnership program with the government, Crocodiles in the Lagunar Nichupté System, however, given the lack of support from state and municipal governments, it has not been able to work formally.

He also denied statements by politicians who say there is an overpopulation problem with crocodiles in the lagoon. “In fact, the number has decreased. The only reference they have is a study from many years ago, but now we have found much lower densities,” he said.

Navarro explained that they manage to operate the program with their own resources as well as monies from other sources, but the fact remains they do not get support from local sectors.

“We are in a fight that the people and sectors should be involved in and take responsibility for,” he said adding “Although for now, we keep things operating with our own resources and some others that we get from other sources.”

Pablo Navarro said that the pollution in the Laguna Nichupté is another factor that affects the crocodiles, and is a reason why the School of the South Border carries out studies and analysis of the water.

In 2013, Profepa reported approximately 1,500 crocodiles living in Laguna Nichupté, a figure that has not been updated since.

According to Live Science, crocodiles play an important role in the ecosystem, as they are known to clean up rivers since they eat carcasses of other species and balance populations in its habitat. Crocodiles are seen as playing a major role in ensuring rivers and other water bodies function smoothly.

They also note that poaching is a constant threat to the crocodile species.

In October, three men were arrested for killing one crocodile and capturing a second from the Cancun lagoon.