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Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus & C. suchus) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global population

  • Crocodylus niloticus
    • 50,000-70,000 mature individuals (Isberg et al. 2019)
  • Crocodylus suchus
    • Estimates not yet available (due to recent species-level recognition; see Taxonomy)

Regional populations

  • Crocodylus niloticus
    • See Isberg et al. (2019) for detailed country by country estimates
  • Crocodylus suchus
    • Estimates not yet available (due to recent species-level recognition; see Taxonomy)

Conservation Status

IUCN Status

  • Crocodylus niloticus
  • Crocodylus suchus
    • Newly recognized species-level status; Red List assessment not yet available

CITES Status (from Crocodile Specialist Group 1996)

  • Crocodylus niloticus
  • Crocodylus suchus
    • Newly recognized species-level status; not yet recognized at species level by CITIES

U.S. Endangered Species Act

  • Crocodylus niloticus

Threats to Survival

Threat history

  • 1960s
    • Hunted to near extinction in Egypt
  • 1973
    • CITES ban on trade of products from wild C. niloticus
      • Enacted in 1975
  • 1983
    • Commercial ranching begun for Okavnago Delta population
      • Supplies international demand for hides
      • Quotas followed to establish for harvest limits for wild adults and eggs
        • c. 1050 adults and 14,000 eggs removed to game farms
        • Nest surveys recorded a 50% reduction in active nests in wild by 1987 (Simbotwe & Matlhare 1987)
        • The Nile Crocodile population today (2009) in this basin is only partially recovered

Ongoing threats to survival

  •  Human/crocodile conflict (IUCN-SSG/CSG 2009)
    • Nile Crocodiles occupy scarce water resources needed by humans
    • Human fatalities often result
      • Crocodile Conflict Working Group presently documents crocodile attacks on humans and livestock (Britton 2009)
  • Exploitation by humans
    • A significant decline in this species' effective population size has resulted from major exploitation in mid and late 20th century (effective population size takes into account the animal's genetic diversity and actual breeding potential) (Bishop et al 2009)
    • Hunted for skins
      • When hunting was allowed, the Ocavanga Delta between Botswana and Namibia lost 48,000 adult Nile Crocodiles between 1957-1968
      • 80,000 skins traded in 1993 on world market
        • Most were from breeding in managed care in Zimbabwe and South Africa
    • Commercial exploitation
      • Nile Crocodiles have been one of the top commercially utilized species of crocodiles in the world (Ross 1998) (IUCN-SSG/CSG 2009)
      • Because of commercial ranching efforts, illegal trade is not thought to be a significant conservation problem
      • Ranching efforts involve collecting wild eggs that normally experience high mortality; in theory the impact of wild populations is minimized; juveniles are raised in managed care for commercial use. (Hekkala et al 2009)
    • Combined threats leave this long-lived species may be vulnerable to extinction despite their apparent partial recovery
  • Habitat alternation
    • Invasive plants
      • A non-native composite shrub (Chromolaena odorata) impacts reproduction (from Leslie & Spotila 1998)
        • Plant invades shoreline habitats in Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa
        • The shrub shades nest sites, making them cooler than normal, which results in only females hatching from the eggs (crocodile embryos are sensitive to nest temperatures: too hot = all males, too cool = all females)

Nile Crocodile

Nile crocodile

Image credit: © David Schenfeld from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Bishop et al (2009)
Britton (2009)
Craig (1992)
Crocodile Specialist Group (1996)
Dzoma et al (2008)
Hekkala et al (2009)
Leslie & Spotila (1998)
Ross (1998)
Simbotwe & Matlhare (1987)

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