India`s largest croc bank to welcome more crocs

The largest crocodile bank of the country in Chennai is gearing up to welcome four more crocodile species to its collection.

Chennai: The largest crocodile bank of the country in Chennai is gearing up to welcome four more crocodile species to its collection.
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology, located on the East Coast Road near here, will receive the new reptiles "by end of September or beginning October 2011," its

Director, Colin James Stevenson, told.

The four new species Cuban Crocodile (Crocodylus Rhombifer), Black Caiman (Melanosuchus Niger), Smooth Fronted Caiman (Paleosuchus Trigonatus) and Broad Snouted Caiman (Caiman Latirostris) will be received from a zoo in the Czech Republic.

"We will send (the Czech zoo) some gharials and some other crocs for them to promote gharial conservation there," Stevenson said.

MCBT already has in its collection 14 of the total 23 crocodile species living across the world and is the only bank in India to house the maximum number of croc species.

The 14 crocodile species available in MCBT are: Mugger (Crocodylus Palustris), Salt Water Crocodile (Crocodylus Porosus), Gharial (Gavialis Gangeticus), Tomistoma (Tomistoma Schlegelii), American Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis), Morelet`s crocodile (Crocodylus Moreletii);

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman Crocodilus), West African Dwarf Crocodile (Osteolaemus Tetraspis), Austrailian Fresh Water Crocodile (Crocodylus Johnsoni), African Slender Snouted Crocodile (Mecistops Cataphractus), Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus Palpebrosus), Yacare Caiman (Caiman Yacare), Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus Niloticus) and Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus Siamensis).

So what happens once the new ones arrive? "They will come end September or beginning October, and will be quarantined initially. We will plan several studies as we do with our other species. But this will be initiated in a planned manner after the quarantine period is over," Stevenson said.

Besides crocodiles, MCBT is also receiving Anacondas -- Green and Yellow (Eunectus Murinus and Eunectus Notaeus).

MCBT will get three green and two yellow anacondas, its director said.

The centre is one of the few such ones in India to have personnel trained to handle and study reptile family.

"We actually have a number of crocodile experts on staff, one of which has direct experience with all of the new species-- and the keepers are already being trained for the new arrivals. We have also readied our staff for the anacondas, as the females will grow significantly larger than other snakes we have here," he said.

Croc Bank also has regular feeding sessions every Sunday at 11.30 am, 12.30 pm, 4 pm and 5pm to encourage visitors to develop interest and share knowledge about these reptiles.

"For those interested in reptiles, we have volunteer programmes. For families or children that love crocodiles, then we also allow people to `adopt` one of our animals, helping with the cost of maintaining the animals, and receiving discounts, updates and certificates and other goodies in return," Stevenson said.