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Environmental officials say habitat destruction biggest threat to crocodiles

Cancún, Q.R. — Environmental officials of the state say it’s important people understand how to live in the same environment as crocodiles and curb the amount of garbage being thrown away, something that is affecting their habitat.

Gonzalo Merediz Alonso, Executive Director of Amigos de Sian Kan, said that it’s important for both humans and crocodiles to coexist in a natural environment, but while doing so, to take care of the environment of the crocodile, especially the Acutus species, which is at risk of extinction.

He explained that there are two species of crocodiles in Quintana Roo, the Acutus and the Moreletti, and that the latter was recently removed from the risk of extinction list thanks to management projects that stopped hunting of the species.

He says that hunting is not a problem regarding the crocodiles that live in the area, but that they are more concerned about how humans are beginning to invade the natural reserves that animals have left to live in.

“Hunting really is no longer a major problem. It is more the problem of damage by the destruction of their habitat. There have been incidents of people illegally hunting crocodiles, which is a federal crime, but that really is not what’s putting the crocodile population at risk right now,” he explained.

He said that chemical pollution is also not a problem that is affecting the population of crocodiles either, neither in the Manatí lagoon nor in the Nichupté as has been the case elsewhere in Mexico, specifically in the Tabasco rivers where dead crocodiles and manatees have been found.

“I am more worried about the destruction of their habitat and the excess of garbage that we throw into the water more than the issue of industrial pollution. If you get chemical contamination it can affect them, but luckily there is no chemical industry in the state, so it is not such a serious problem,” he said.

He explained that the real issue is raising awareness and educating people to have responsible management of the environment and learning to live with and share the space we all live in. He noted that understanding how to deal with a crocodile is also important, such as the crocodile that was relocated from the grounds of the University of the Caribbean recently.

Each year there are several local incidences involving humans and crocodiles, that range from beach sightings in Playa del Carmen to attacks on the island of Cozumel and in the lagoons of Cancun where in 2017, a man lost an arm after being attacked by a crocodile.