Written by José Nobrega
Photos Courtesy of Erin Cubitt
Up to date, there are known 27 crocodilian species in the world, and along with modern birds, they belong to an ancient group called Archosaurs, which also included dinosaurs and their relatives. In Calakmul Biosphere Reserve (CBR) in México, only one species is known to occur, Crocodylus moreletii, which in general are a very shy species, in great part because its skin is very much in demand by the leather industry, and they have been subjected to intensive hunting during in the last decades.
This year in Calakmul, we launched a pilot project that aims to provide additional knowledge on the species, because up date, only information from riverine systems is available. Calakmul Biosphere Reserve encompasses a huge expanse of tropical forest that is part of the Selva Maya (Mayan Jungle), where the main source of water is the temporary Aguadas, which are seasonal lakes fed by the rain. No information is yet available on the biology of the species in this type of environment, so thanks to Operation Wallacea’s Project in Campeche (México) we have the unique opportunity to learn more on the species biology, and hopefully implement a long-term study on several aspects of these amazing animals. During this first experimental year, we are trying to know where they are, how many there are, their size, and if possible sex ratios on each Aguada. Even though these may seem simple objectives they are really hard questions to address and it could take years to find the answers. But with the help of our team we hope to do so and in the following years we will also try to expand to more specific aspects of their life-history, such as nesting, diet, behavior, and movement patterns. These are all topics that generate a large amount of data that can support dissertation students. So if you are a student keen to learn more about these pre-historic animals, you are welcome to join our project and participate in an adventure that will take you back in time, into the life-history of some of the last of these mysterious reptiles, that ruled the interface between water and land in tropical climates for over 100 million years.