Crocodilians are charismatic megafauna that act as key species in aquatic habitats and serve as indicators in ecosystem monitoring and restoration programs. Throughout history, crocodilians have been both revered and persecuted, perhaps more so than any other faunal group. From a conservation perspective, they are widely regarded as flagship species that mobilize wetland conservation efforts around the world. African slender-snouted crocodiles (Mecistops spp.) are the least-known crocodile species, and our estimates suggest that fewer than 500 adult West African slender-snouted crocodiles (Mecistops cataphractus) are left in the wild. We now recognize M. cataphractus as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, making it not only one of the six priority crocodilian species for conservation worldwide and the most endangered crocodile species on the African continent, but also one of the most Critically Endangered species on the planet.
We aim to ensure the survival of the Critically Endangered West African slender-snouted crocodile through scientific research, capacity building and support of West African national partners. By facilitating the management of the Ivorian government's own captive crocodile population, we ensure vested interest not only in a robust conservation breeding and reintroduction program, but also sustainable management of reintroduction sites ensuring the survival reintroduced crocodiles and existing wild populations.
Our work with Mecistops cataphractus is ensuring the future of this species by captive breeding and reintroduction, activities which bring this Critically Endangered crocodilian into the spotlight in West Africa and underscore the importance of our work developing the technical capacity of our local government partners to manage this species in the wild. Our local graduate students, who form the core of our team, are poised to become the future of wildlife conservation in the critically important Upper Guinea forest biodiversity hotspot.
Find more information on the Project Mecistops website.