April 6, 2016

Rescue of an American crocodile, an endangered species

An American crocodile 2.6 metres long and weighing 79 kilograms was rescued in the Ranchería River within the boundaries of Cerrejón. The rescue operation was led by the Cerrejón Wildlife Refuge Centre and lasted over four hours.

After finding larger tracks of this species than are generally seen on the banks of the Ranchería River, the professionals from the Wildlife Refuge Centre started tracking the animal to relocate it from the area. Several days later, it was located in a cave it had dug in a bank near the river. It was then captured without any injury to the crocodile.

The Wildlife Refuge Centre team determined that the crocodile was likely 8–10 years old and had been in this river for several years. However, due to the drought in the department, the animal had become stranded in some isolated river pools within the mining complex.

Over 200 specimens of this species have been found at Cerrejón, all of which have been relocated to the area of Punta Gallinas in the Alta Guajira.

The mandate of the Cerrejón Wildlife Refuge Centre is to safeguard the conservation of such endangered species. Currently, the Wildlife Refuge Centre’s Reintroduction of the American Crocodile in the Alta Guajira Program has nine American crocodiles in captivity for breeding in stringent reproductions of the animal’s natural habitat.
“The conservation of these animals is crucial because American crocodiles are a species that has survived for 50 million years and it is found in this department due to the occurrence of its habitat here. So at Cerrejón we work towards its survival and towards safeguarding this species,” explained Luis Madriñán, a PhD in ecology at the Wildlife Refuge Centre.

With the involvement of the local environmental authority, we are studying the possibility of releasing this animal in a habitat near the ecosystems of the Jerez River in Dibulla to prevent the possibility of any danger arising from interactions with humans. This work will be carried out under the leadership of Corpoguajira in the next few days.
Through our commitment to the conservation of ecosystems and wildlife, we at Cerrejón are working to safeguard all the species forming part of the biodiversity of La Guajira.