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Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus & C. suchus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Distribution

Historic distribution

  • Formerly across Africa (from Pooley & Gans 1976; Trutnau & Sommerlad 2006)
    • Extending to Israel and  along the southern Mediterranean coast as far west and north as Tunisia and Syriain, recent historical times
    • Fossil and modern distribution records suggests some lineages dispersed across marine barriers (from Brochu 2001; Dessauer et al 2002)
      • Distribution of the genus Crocodylus world-wide can't be explained by continental drift, land bridges, sea levels, or any other geological phenomena
      • Several physiological mechanisms of crocodiles probably helped them to colonize new lands via marine waters
  • Recent regional extinctions
    • 1810-1820, extirpated from Comoros Island, off Africa's East Coast
    • Eliminated from Israel in the early 1900s
    • Re-established population in Egypt following theAswan dam project in the 1970s

Modern distribution

  • Widespread throughout Africa (from Hekkala et al 2009)
    • South of the Sahara desert
    • In eastern Africa, up to Lake Nassar in Egypt
    • Absent from the southern tip of Africa
  • Western Madagascar (Hekkala et al 2009)
  • Present in numerous countries
    • Occupies parts of 47 African countries (Hekkala et al 2009)
    • Can be locally rare, with populations fragmented due to human land use and a drying climate (Ross 1998)

Geographical subregions

  • 7 distinctive populations (from Hekkala et al 2009)
    • 4 major drainages of Eastern Africa
      • Kenya's Lake Turkana
      • Ruaha River in Tanzania
      • Zambezi River in Zimbabwe
      • Limpopo River in South Africa
    • Sahara/West Africa population
    • 2 groups in Madagascar
      • Populations probably founded by individuals who crossed 250 miles of marine waters from Africa (Brochu 2001; Dessauer et al 2002; Grenard 1991)

Habitat

Freshwater inhabitant

  • Lakes, rivers, and streams
    • Also found in brackish coastal swamps
      • More salt-tolerant than previously believed (Brochu 2001)
    • Burrows during the hot and dry seasons in Somalia and Tanzania (Trutnau & Sommerlad 2006)
      • Juveniles known to occupy burrows for protection from adults
  • Inhabits caves, western Madagascar

Distribution Map

map of Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodile distribution.

Adapted from www-d.-maps.com according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here for detailed distribution information (IUCN).

Page Citations

Brochu (2001)
Dessauer et al (2002)
Grenard (1991)
Hekkala et al (2009)
Pooley & Gans (1976)
Ross (1998)
Trutnau & Sommerlad (2006)

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