Manuela Ayuso reports on environmental news from the Corozal District.

MANUELA AYUSO:”The Belize Crocodile Creche in Sarteneja Village Corozal is the temporary home of almost one hundreds baby crocs. For three years Steve and Magali Nicholas have been busy conserving the American and the Morelet Crocodiles, the only two specie of the Crocodilian family found in Belize. The Crocodilians have been traced back to the time of the dinosaurs and although they’ve been around for two to three million years, a harmonious cohabiting between crocs and humans is yet to be. In the early 1980’s unregulated hunting had brought both species of crocodiles to the brink of extinction in Belize and by 1982 the Government saw the need to put in place a hunting ban. Since then Moreletes have made the recovery and are sighted regularly in the waterways of Orange Walk, Corozal and Belize City but according to Steve Nichols, the American or Salt Water Crocodile have not done so well.”

STEVE NICHOLS:”The main reason is there is nesting requirements, the fresh water crocodiles build a nest out of rubbish, piles up dead leaves and lays eggs in that and they can do that anywhere but this species like sea turtles need a nice sandy beach and it lays its eggs in the sand. This is in direct competition with tourist, tourists are the ones who make money so the poor crocodile is definitely in second place but with an increase in number in Belize they will actually attract tourists, so they are actually good for Belize.”

MANUELA AYUSO:”Over the last few years Nichols and his wife have been working for the crocodiles, collecting the hatchlings at 8 to 10 inches long and raising them until they are 3 feet long when they are returned to the wild and they are able to survive. Nichols says that because other animals feed on the hatchlings only 2 out of every 10 survive but by conserving them their survival rate increases by 80%. Nichols says the only enemy an adult crocodile has is man and that convincing people that crocs are not man eating monsters is not an easy task.”

STEVE NICHOLS:In the last couple of years because the number of crocodiles are increasing and the number of people are increasing, encounters between people and crocodiles are starting to increase as well mainly because of ignorance, not just on our part but on the part of crocodiles as well neither one of us is used to the other one being around all the time but we are the easier ones to educate.”

MANUELA AYUSO:” Nichols believes that people and crocodiles can live peacefully together but simple rules must be followed. Crocodiles can be unpredictable if they are molested and are capable of defending themselves if they feel that their nest, their young, or their territory is threatened, so stay away. Be aware and stay clear of female crocodiles with young, they are very protective, not just the parents but large crocodiles will come to help if they think there is a threat to the young. Do not swim or splash on the surface if you know there are crocodiles in the area. Large crocodiles mark their territory and challenge rivals to fight by splashing their chins on the surface. Keep pets away especially at night when crocodiles are most active. Do not throw rubbish along the water edges and most importantly never feed wild crocodiles as they may associate humans with food and start coming closer and closer to the water edges looking for food. Nichol
as says that to avoid ha!
ving the crocodiles he feeds from associating people with food, he feeds them in the cages at night so they don’t see where the food comes from. The Belize Crocodile Creche is funded by local and international organizations and businesses. Plans are underway for a school visiting program and for the construction of an artificial beach that will serve as an incubator so more studies can be done to better understand one of the worlds most ancient specie.”