The Effect of Skinning Crocodiles on the Environment

The skinning of crocodiles has been an economic activity since the ancient times.  Crocodiles are targets for hunters who seek to skin them or acquire other crocodile products. Crocodile meat is a delicacy for communities living near to water bodies. The increasing importance of crocodiles in the leather industry has led to the establishment of crocodile farms where the reptiles are kept for their hides.   Other organizations operating in the hospitality sector rear crocodiles for meat. Crocodiles are hostile reptiles and they attack human beings who invade their habitats. They are carnivals that mostly depend on mammals and other sea creatures for food.  The events of the climate change such as floods and drought has increased human-crocodile conflict due to habitat interference. Floods that extend to human habitats can sweep the crocodiles to human habitats thus causing conflict.  Draughts reduce water levels that make humans encroach crocodile habitats in search for water.  Poaching has taken the crocodile-man conflict into another level.  Conservative agencies have been raising an alarm due to the increasing level of crocodile poaching that was almost threatening different species of crocodiles (Vos, 2002).  However, the introduction of crocodile farms has helped address the threat of crocodile extinction. Crocodiles are also killed in sporting activities that further threaten their existence. The highest threat of crocodiles emanate from poaching for their hides. There is a need for people to avoid buying products made of crocodile leather with an aim of saving crocodiles from extinction.

Skinning crocodiles have far reaching impacts on the environment.  It is therefore necessary to protect crocodiles from different dangers with an aim of protecting the environment from possible negative ramifications. There are some factors that make crocodiles vulnerable. Firstly, the ability of a crocodile to reproduce is faced by some impediments.  Its eggs are predated by other animals such as turtles and snakes. A crocodile lays many eggs that end up being eaten by the different predators. Others are exposed to harsh weather conditions that make hatching impossible. After hatching the baby crocodiles are exposed to harsh weather conditions and predators giving them a thin chance of survival.  All these factors make the reproduction of crocodiles slow. It implies that an increase in crocodile poaching can reduce their population at an alarming rate due to their inability to reproduce fast.  Crocodile farms provide ideal conditions to enable crocodiles to reproduce at a faster rate.  There have been successful attempts to interbreed saltwater and freshwater crocodiles that have led to the creation of superior breeds (Revol, 1995). Secondly, water pollution has made crocodiles vulnerable.  Industrial water pollution makes crocodiles to ingest harmful chemicals that lead to their deaths. The fact that the survival of crocodiles is under a threat makes it necessary to avoid consuming products made of crocodile leather with an aim of discouraging poaching.

Apart from the crocodiles’ vulnerability, people should avoid products made of crocodile hides due to the crucial role played by the crocodiles in the ecosystem. Crocodiles are among the few aquatic carnivores. It implies that they play a crucial role in balancing aquatic life. Crocodile are carnivores and they purely depend on meat as their source of food. They predate aquatic and terrestrial animals thus controlling the population of specific animals.  A reduction in the number of crocodiles would lead to a sharp increase of some sea creatures that would lead to an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem. For instance, a reduction of crocodiles would lead to an increase in the population of amphibians and fish. Fish and amphibians eat plants and small sea creatures implying that their increasing population would lead to the reduction of their food.  It means that a small reduction in the population of crocodiles would have far reaching implications in the food chain.  Some types of crocodiles feed on large animals such as wild beasts and antelopes. They therefore play a crucial role in controlling the population of terrestrial animals. Over population of terrestrial animals has been raising major concerns over the years.   A high population of grazing animals leads to overgrazing that cause soil erosion. It means that reducing the population of crocodiles through poaching   impedes the role of crocodiles in controlling the population of terrestrial animals that in turn leads to overpopulation putting the available land under pressure. The land set aside for wildlife has been decreasing due to the increasing population and economic activities. A substantial portion of land that has been under the occupation of wild animals has been converted into agricultural or settlement land. The need for controlling animal population has resulted to the application of extreme population control measures such as sterilization and gunning down of animals. Such measures can be avoided by keeping the population of crocodiles high (Thorbjarnarson et al., 2001).

Crocodiles encourage water and forest conservation measures. Conservancies have been created to protect crocodile leading to the implementation of sound measures of improving the ecosystem. Most of conservative measures are directed towards protecting the crocodile’s habitats from human interferences. Such measures have prevented human driven environmental degradation such as water pollution and deforestation.

Skinning crocodiles provide hides for manufacturing products such as belts, wallets, hand bags and shoes (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources,2000). These products have a higher value that leather products manufactured from hides from other animals. The products attract many customers that increase their demand making it necessary to skin more crocodiles. There are well established entrepreneurs in the supply chain of manufacturing products made of crocodile leather. Some entrepreneurs specialize in skinning crocodiles and are therefore experienced poachers. Others focus on tanning the crocodile hides to produce crocodile leather used in the production of different items. There are specialists in production who create a variety of products from crocodile leather. The final players in the supply chain are the retailers who transact with the final consumer. People need to be sensitized about the need to protect crocodiles due to their critical role in the environment. The identified stakeholders in the supply chain need to understand the need to conserve crocodiles due to their environmental importance.

In conclusion, skinning crocodiles have serious environmental consequences that need to be controlled.  Crocodiles assist in maintenance of balance in the ecosystem. They help in keeping the population of specific animals on check thus helping in conserving the environment. Consumers of products made of leather products need to boycott the products that will reduce the demand for crocodile hides that consequently control crocodile poaching. Other players in the supply chain should remain committed to reducing crocodile poaching.

References

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. (2000).Crocodiles: Proceedings of the 7th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources = Cocodrilos : memorias de la Séptima Reunión de Trabajo del Grupo de Especialistas en Cocodrilos de la Comisión de Supervivencia de Especies de la Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza y de los Recursos Naturales : Caracas, Venezuela, 21 al 28 de octubre de 1984. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN.

Revol, B. (1995). Crocodile farming and conservation, the example of Zimbabwe. Biodiversity and Conservation4(3), 299-305

Stoltz, M. (2004). Hermes and crocodile leather : towards a dialogue between industrialists and scientists. Bulletin de la Societe Zoologique de France.

Thorbjarnarson, J. B., Messel, H., King, F. W., Ross, J. P., & International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. (2001). Crocodiles: An action plan for their conservation. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Vos, A. de. (2002). Crocodile conservation in India. Biological Conservation,29(2), 183-189.

 

 

 

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