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A bout of influenza B and the subsequent catchup of missed work, has sadly had an impact on blogging energy. So thought I’d kick start things with some crocodile news.

From Venezuela, the news for the endangered Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) is looking grim. The Orinoco crocodile is the largest in South America but the population has suffered a major contraction. Its distribution is now restricted to Venezuela and Colombia but the populations are extremely small, in the low hundreds.

There was early reliance on state-owned nature reserves to protected these crocodiles but these proved inadaquate. Breeding then shifted to a number of private reserves, and animals have been released back into the wild from these. Revenues from these reserves came in part from eco-tourism.

However, 3 of the 4 private reserves breeding the Orinoco crocodile have been expropriated by the government. This is part of the Chavez government’s wealth redistribution. The expropriated reserves no longer appear to be undertaking breeding of these endangered crocodiles.

Story from the BBC

This reflects many of the problems facing wildlife conservation. A similar story has emerged in Zimbabwe where the once thriving crocodile industry there has undergone a major collapse. Zimbabwe used to be one of the world largest suppliers of Nile crocodile skins and the loss of this supply has sent crocodile leather prices soaring for other species.

Many decisions that get made within the political sphere are relatively short run. Wildlife management programs however, require long term stability and security. In NZ the kakapo recovery programme launched in the late 80s, has survived many changes of government since then. It is an apt illustration that conservation is a long term business. We have a fundamental mismatch between the public institutions that are supposed to perpetuate conservation and the wildlife populations we are managing.