Beijing: Following efforts to support their survival, the critically endangered Chinese alligators living in the wild have witnessed a rise in population over the past few years.
Anhui province, where a nature reserve was set up over 30 years ago to protect the rare species, is home to the majority of the Chinese alligators, Xinhua reported.
According to deputy director of the Anhui Yangtze Alligator Nature Reserve, the number of wild Chinese alligators is currently estimated to exceed 150, excluding about 50 captive-bred animals that have been reintroduced to the wild in recent years.
In 2005, the number stood at about 96 to 108 in 2005, said Wang Chaolin.
Though the population has been growing, the Chinese alligator remains threatened by extinction, as the population is far below the widely recognised 500-line separating "endangered" species and "critically endangered" ones, he said.
These alligators are widely known as the Yangtze alligators as these animals live along the lower reaches of the Yangtze river.
The Chinese alligator was originally scattered across eastern China. However, its wild habitat has been reduced significantly by human activities, especially as land has been converted to suit agricultural needs.
But to restore the 230-million-year-old species` habitat, China has been converting farmland to forests over the past few years, a move believed to have helped increase the alligator`s population.
China has put the Chinese alligator as a priority on its protection list.
In 1979, the Chinese Alligator Breeding Research Centre was set up in Anhui. Since then, the number of captive alligators at the centre has risen from about 200 to over 10,000.