Crocodilians is the scientific name for crocodiles, alligators, gharials and caimans. Collectively they area walking, breathing link to the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth 240 million years ago. And they look even more fierce as long as a pickup truck, and with giant mouths full of razor-sharp teeth.
Loathed for their eating habits and adored for their skins, alligators and crocodiles were hunted almost to extinction. But thanks to some creative conservation efforts the status of crocodilians has improved dramatically. Even though some populations are thriving, others are still at risk. Eight species remain on the endangered list, and some hover on the edge of extinction.
Alligator and Crocodile Rescue profiles the major programs and people around the world who are active in the conservation efforts to help these animals:
Illustrated with 50 color photographs, Alligator and Crocodile Rescue covers the people, the issues and the challenges involved in preserving a future for endangered wildlife.
About the Firefly Animal Rescue series:
The Firefly Animal Rescue identifies endangered and threatened species and what is being done to protect them. Combining lively, accessible text and stunning color photographs, each book provides a detailed overview of the species, describing its characteristics, behavior, habits, physiology and more.
"These attractive books are a call to action... fascinating readable accounts."
- School Library Journal
"Succinct introductions to the science and practice of wildlife conservation... written in accessible, lively language."
Trish Snyder is a journalist and award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers.
When dinosaurs ruled the earth 240 million years ago, guess who roamed along with them? Crocodilians -- including crocs, alligators, gharials and caimans -- are a walking, breathing link to the archosaurs, an ancient group of animals that included dinosaurs. Crocs look fierce: they have giant mouths lined with dozens of dagger-sharp teeth, and they can grow longer than a pick-up truck!
Unfortunately, while dinosaurs are dearly loved, crocs and gators are widely loathed -- especially for their dining habits. Using a deadly combination of speed and surprise, they occasionally prey on our cattle or pets. And in rare cases, they attack people. They caused such fear that, less than a hundred years ago, some governments paid hunters to kill them.
If there's one thing we do like about crocodilians, though, it's their skin. After people discovered that these animals had a leathery hide that could be made into shoes and bags, the demand for crocs soared. They were hunted so ruthlessly that by 1971 every one of the 23 species was considered vulnerable or endangered.
So conservationists got creative. Instead of demanding an end to hunting, they encouraged it. Instead of protesting outside fashionable boutiques, they applauded every purchase. Instead of striking out at hunters, traders, tanners (leather makers) and designers, they partnered with them. As long as people had a use for crocs, conservationists reasoned, they'd want to keep them around for a long time.
The status of crocodilians has improved dramatically thanks to conservationists, scientists, governments, farmers and traders around the globe. But there is still work to be done. While some populations are thriving, eight species remain on the endangered list, and some hover on the edge of extinction.
If there's one thing crocs have, it's staying power. They survived whatever wiped out the dinosaurs. They aren't likely to give up just yet.