Found, only in the Orinoco river basin in Venezuela and Colombia, this crocodilian is critically endangered. Extensive hunting for its skin, is the main reason for their current status. In the past, individuals up to 6.8m and weighing 900kg were recorded, but nowadays 5.2m seems the maximum size. Male weight, currently tops out at around 450kg, with females being half the weight at 225kg.
Little study in the wild has been done, partly as a result of its small wild population. As with most American Crocodiles, this species originated in Africa.
From the 1940-1960 they were overhunted, and came precariously close to extinction. The current population is estimated to be in the range of 250 -1500 (an incredibly wide range). The largest sub-population is in Cojedes and Sarare, with no more than 500. The other remaining populations are all significantly smaller.
In 2007, there were 50 of these animals in zoos around the world (though 35 of these were kept in the Dallas aquarium.
The Orinoco crocodile became part of Proyecto Vida Silvestre, a program launched in 2014 to protect 10 wildlife species of Colombia’s Llanos. This lead to 41 Orinoco crocodiles being reintroduced into El Tuparro national Park in Easter Colombia between May 2015 and February 2016. Clearly, the job is not complete, but hopefully it is on an up-hill trend from now on.