West African Crocodile

The West African crocodile inhabits much of West and Central Africa, ranging east to South Sudan and Uganda, and south to Democratic Republic of the Congo (in all three countries it may come into contact with Nile crocodiles). Other countries where it is found include Mauritania, Benin, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gabon, Togo, Ivory Coast and Republic of Congo. Just 100 years ago, museums were still getting specimens from the southern Nile but they appear to be long lost from this part of their range.

Bizarrely, it survives in desert conditions in Mauritana, largely by staying in caves and burrows in the driest periods, and then emerging in rainy periods.

It was only recognized as a separate species in 2010 which has lead to its poor representation in zoos. Having said that, a surprising number of pure members of this species has been found. There are breeding pairs in around 4 uk zoos. A study of 16 so-called Nile crocodiles in 6 USA zoos found all but one were actually west african Crocodiles.

Clearly more work is needed on this species, as well as its captive population.

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