June 17, 2019
Chinese Alligator Survival
- as seen by -Don Boyer
The Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis) is one of only two alligator species alive today. Unlike its cousin the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) which has a population of five million spread out throughout the southeastern US, the Chinese alligator has a wild population of 150 alligators in a fragmented range in China’s Anhui Province. This is a 90 percent reduction over its former range making it one of the most critically endangered crocodilians in the world.
There is some good news. About 10,000 Chinese alligators live at the Anhui Research Center in China. These animals will help to ensure the species survival but actions to increase the wild population still need to be accomplished.
There is further reason to be optimistic, the American alligator was one of the first critically endangered species recognized in the US. By the late 1960s, it was facing extinction throughout much of it range. Recovery plans were implemented and a robust wild population exists today. It worked in American alligators and could turn out the same for Chinese alligators if there is the will to do so.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: The Bronx Zoo has a pair of Chinese alligators in the World of Reptiles. Stop by and see them and their American alligator relatives.