April 19, 2009

Expert predicts Yangtze alligator increase

The number of wild Yangtze alligators could more than double during the next five to 10 years, an alligator expert in China said Sunday.

Wang Chaolin, Chinese Alligators Protection Nature Reserve deputy director, said while only 120 specimens of the endangered alligator species exist, an apparent increase in their living and breeding territories could help increase their population to 300 within 10 years, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, reported.

Wang, whose wildlife reserve is located in China's Anhui Province, said the predicted increase is also based on the discovery of wild baby alligators in China.

We have, for the first time, found wild baby alligators. Normally their survival rate is only 2 percent, he said. The finding of the infants indicates the number of the species is increasing.

We've also found new tracks of the animal in more sites in Wuhu City, once a major habitat of the reptile.

Wang told Xinhua humans remain the main threat to Yangtze alligators.