By Than Htike
Crocodiles are the reptile animals that have naturally existed since more than 240 million years ago when it might be the beginning of the world and they still remain unchanged. The crocodiles are a large reptile, with a long tail, hard skin and very big jaws and lives in rivers and lakes in hot countries. They are carnivores living both in water and on land. The crocodiles can be seen in Africa, Australia, America, Bangladesh, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam. Similarly they can sometimes be spotted in island countries like Japan. There are about 24 crocodile species in the world—14 kinds of crocodile species, 8 of alligator species and two of gavial species.
Different species of crocodiles are still being bred
Like other regional countries, Myanmar is developing the conservation of its crocodile generation for ensuring continued growth for a long time. Myanmar has set up crocodile farms in Mainmahla Islands in Ayeyawady Region and Thaketa Industrial Zone Ward in Yangon Region. The crocodile farm in Thakayta Industrial Zone Ward in Yangon Region located beside Nga Moe Yeik Creek has an area of 40 acres. Thaketa crocodile farm was established by the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development in 1978. In 1994-1995FY, it was run in cooperation with the Department of Fisheries in the process of conserving the crocodiles. On 6 November in 1997, Thaketa crocodile farm was transformed into a recreation camp and opened to the public. The crocodile farm is breeding 549 crocodiles ranging from one to 15 feet in length and there are also the crocodiles of about 40 years old.
One to three feet long crocodiles are kept in No 1 Pond and their age ranges from one to three. One year old crocodile is one foot long. Three years old and six feet long crocodiles are bred in No 3 Pond where there are more 100 crocodiles. More than five and six feet long crocodiles can be identified as males and females. April is the reproductive time of the crocodiles during which noises of crocodiles can be heard in the natural forests. Baby crocodiles coming out of eggs and three feet long crocodiles are being nurtured in No 1 Pond which is opened to the public. Three, five and six feet long crocodiles are being bred in No 3 Pond whose three staffs who are clever at the nature and behavior of the crocodiles explain salient points of the crocodiles to the visitors to the crocodile farm.
Termination of crocodile export
It was in 1978 that Campuchia presented three crocodiles to Myanmar in commemoration of the bilateral friendship. The then Kampuchea has today appeared as Cambodia and Laos. At the outset, these three crocodiles were temporarily kept in Danyingone and then the livestock duty was shifted to the Pearl and Fisheries of the Fisheries and Livestock Department. The Crocodile Breeding Unit started breeding the crocodiles beside Nga Moe Yeik creek in Thaketa. At the same time, small natural salt water crocodiles have been started breeding in Mainmahla Island in Bogale Township, Ayeyawady Region. In 1980, the small crocodiles came of age and the incubation of the crocodiles began in 1981-1982. In 1990, crocodiles were exported to Thailand and Singapore FOB (Free on Board) by US dollars. In 1994-1995, the Fisheries Department took responsibility for breeding the crocodiles following the termination of the export of crocodiles. At that time, border area peace and stability was under implementation. More than 100 crocodiles from the breeding farm were sent to the border areas of Kokang and Wa in order to carry out the breeding together with poultry and pig for the development of border areas. Later, the crocodiles were not sold any more. Myanmar became a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) organized by the United Nations. The crocodile has not been exported until now. From 1997 Thaketa crocodile farm has become a camp of studying crocodile and going for recreation for the public.
Thaketa crocodile farm having an area of 40 acres experiences floods from June to August every year. During the previous rainy season, some brick walls collapsed as the water from Nga Moe Yeik Creek flowed into the crocodile farm without hinge. In cooperation with the local authorities, brick walls had to be renovated to prevent the crocodiles from leaving the ponds.
Saltwater crocodiles can live up to 100 years and the male is greater than the female in size. The average length of the male crocodile is 13 feet and that of the female one, 10 feet. The female crocodile comes of age when it is 8 feet in length. A female crocodile lays 20 to 70 eggs. When it is 90 days long, it is born of. The size of the baby crocodile at birth is 8 inches long. When it is one year old, it is one foot long. One remarkable point is that crocodile eggs hatch into males at the temperature of 30.6 degree centigrade. If there occurs fall and rise in temperature, eggs hatch into females. The saltwater crocodiles are the most hostile creatures and can live on land as well.
Saltwater crocodiles under conservation
Crocodylus porosus species saltwater crocodiles are being conserved in Thaketa crocodile farm and they lay eggs from April to June. These eggs have to be picked up in the natural forest and they have to be naturally covered with hays. The crocodile egg has to be put into the cork container which is covered with sawdust and coconut fibre dust and it is heated by electricity. It takes 90 days to get baby crocodiles. Crocodiles can’t be identified as males or females when they are young. When they are seven or eight years old, they can be identified as males or females. Sex organs of the crocodiles usually change from one to six years. The crocodiles are being bred in Thaketa crocodile farm with the aims of ensuring longer existence of the crocodiles, becoming a site of relaxing and seeking knowledge for local and foreign travellers, ensuring public participation in the wildlife conservation, and conducting researches by the university students to seek knowledge. The crocodile species found in Myanmar are Crocodylus palustris, Crocodylus porosus, and Crocodylus siamensis.
The government is striving for ensuring longer existence of the wildlife. On the land measures to conserve wild elephants are being undertaken while the crocodiles living both on land and in water are being naturally bred in Mainmahla Island. Thaketa crocodile farm also is developing the conservation of crocodile generation for ensuring longer existence. Translated by Htut Htut (Twantay)