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Review of the reintroduction programme of the mugger crocodile Crocodylus palustris in Neyyar reservoir, India

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Human-crocodile conflicts created by Mugger crocodiles Crocodylus palustris were studied 18 years after a reintroduction to the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India. Twenty-nine Mugger crocodiles were reintroduced into the reservoir in the year 1983 and crocodile attacks on livestock were reported from 1985. During the initial period of the study, 21 to 25 Mugger crocodiles were estimated but only 10 to 16 crocodiles were recorded towards the end of the period as nine were removed from the reservoir to reduce the conflict. Fishes provided sufficient prey, but food in the form of large mammals was inadequate. Twenty-nine crocodile attacks on humans were reported prior to the study and six occurred later, including two fatalities. The attacks occurred over 26 km of shoreline and followed previous patterns of attack behaviour in crocodiles. Larger crocodiles were more often involved with attacks than small crocodiles. About 2808 houses exist in a narrow belt near the lake shore. As local people utilised the reservoir for various purposes they did not support the conservation of crocodiles in the present circumstances. The case study indicated the failure of the reintroduction programme of Mugger crocodile in the Neyyar Reservoir.
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Keywords: CROCODILIAN; HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICT; PREY AVAILABILITY; REINTRODUCTION; REPTILE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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