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THE MUGGER CROCODILE

COMMON NAMES:
Mugger, Muggar, Marsh crocodile, Cocodrilo marismeño, Crocodile des marais, Crocodile palustre, Indian swamp crocodile, Makar, Broad-snouted crocodile.

DISTRIBUTION:
Bangladesh, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indo-China.

HABITAT:
Freshwater rivers, lakes and marshes. Prefer slow-moving, shallower areas. They have also adapted to live in reservoirs, irrigation canals, and other man-made bodies of freshwater in India and Sri Lanka and they are also known to dig burrows for shelter.

STATUS:
IUCN-International Union of Conservation of Nature (VULNERABLE)
Estimated wild population: 5,000 to 10,000

APPEARANCE:
Colour generally light tan in juveniles and darker in males, with black cross-banding on body and tail. This is a medium to large species of 12-15ft. The snout is the broadest of any member of the Crocodylus genus, giving the mugger a more alligatorine appearance

DIET:
Youngsters eat crustaceans, insects and small fish generally. Adults eat larger fish, amphibians, reptiles such as snakes and turtles, birds and mammals including monkeys.

BREEDING:
Females reach sexual maturity at around 4ft in length (usually around 6 years old), while males mature at about 7ft. (10 years old). Nests are holes excavated during the dry season (from December to February). Location of the nest varies considerably, but they are most commonly found on sloping banks. The female usually lays 25 to 30 eggs

CONSERVATION:
The species was threatened in the past by unregulated hunting for skins, but now the threats come from habitat destruction (considerable agricultural and industrial development), mortality in fishing nets (as they attempt to capture ensnared fish), egg collecting and illegal hunting (including the use of parts for medicinal purposes). Several populations are feared to be extinct (e.g. Bangladesh, Myanmar). The largest populations are present in Sri Lanka, and are estimated to be around 2000 animals. In India, estimates of between 3000 and 5000 animals have been made.

Captive breeding and rearing programs in India have met with some success. Excess numbers of captive-bred animals now reside in captivity, due to a decrease in the amount of suitable release sites in recent years. The Indian government has called a halt to all captive breeding of this species, and has discouraged any assessment of the commercial potential of this species in regard to its conservation.

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