Thai crocodile farmers want trade restrictions relaxed

Nov 11, 2022, 10:16 PM | Updated: 10:37 pm
A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, ...

A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

SRI RACHA, Thailand (AP) — Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity.

With only about 100 Siamese crocodiles estimated to be living in the wild in Thailand, the species is technically teetering on local extinction. Crocodile farmers, meanwhile, are raising millions of the animals in captivity, but also not faring so well. The coronavirus pandemic devastated sales of their products due to an almost complete halt in the lucrative market of visiting tourists.

In response, Thailand’s crocodile industry, whose $200 million in annual sales plunged nearly 90% during the pandemic, is promoting a two-track solution it hopes can benefit itself as well as the reptile species. In addition to seeking a relaxation of tight regulations on international trade of their products, they are spearheading an effort to restock Siamese crocodiles in the wild.

Although the industry had its roots in the capture of wild crocodiles, breeders and traders argue that a successful and well-regulated farming business can help rebuild the wild crocodile population.

Advocates of easing trade rules believe the successful breeding of Siamese crocodiles on farms means it’s no longer cost effective to hunt them in the wild, and a thriving commercial industry will help fund conservation projects.

Thailand will propose a relaxation of the rules on the trade in Siamese crocodiles at next week’s meeting in Panama of the 184-nation CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The Thai proposal seeks to change the current listing of Siamese crocodiles from Appendix I, a category with extremely strict trade rules for species under threat, to Appendix II, with more relaxed rules that place less regulatory burden on buyers who import the products.

Yosapong Temsiripong, the head of the Thai Crocodile Farm Association and owner of the Sriracha Moda Farm, said this would help revive the battered industry, allowing easier export of meat to countries such as China and, more importantly, crocodile skins to big overseas fashion brands for handbags and shoes. Relaxed rules would help Thailand compete with the United States, Zimbabwe and Australia, which are major exporters of crocodile species that are not in the category of most endangered.

“The last two years, during the pandemic, the crocodile industry was greatly affected as tourism is the main source of our income. When there were no tourists coming, our business suffered greatly,” Yosapong said. “Our exports were also affected. We are hoping that if we can downlist the Siamese crocodile, we can then enter more markets and our products can be accepted by global brands.”

Wild Siamese crocodiles, which were once found in abundance in slow-moving rivers, streams and lakes in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, were decimated by the late 1990s due to uncontrolled hunting and trading, as well as by economic development that shrank their natural habitats. It’s believed that only about 400 Siamese crocodiles remain in the wild, mostly in Cambodia.

Promoting commercial farming and crocodile conservation are compatible goals, said Bancha Sukkaew, deputy director-general of Thailand’s Fisheries Department.

“The species remains as a protected species. Those allowed to be sold and exported have to be from farms. So we can guarantee that trade will be made from farms only. Secondly, we have plans to manage protected areas and plans to release crocodiles into the wild which have been approved to be carried out annually.”

Thai authorities are committed to protecting the wild population, with plans to increase it from about 100 now to 200 over the next 10 years, he said.

Previous proposals to ease trading rules for Siamese crocodiles, however, have been rejected.

Steven Platt, a herpetologist from the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, said more should be done to save Thailand’s wild Siamese crocodiles before opening the door to increased trade. Such efforts should include a more robust crocodile release program, he said.

Neighboring Cambodia and Laos are leading the effort to increase the wild populations with regular release programs, said Platt, who has spent years working on crocodile conservation. The two countries are believed to have stable and viable populations, which some experts say is not the case in Thailand. Thailand’s release of 50 crocodiles between 2006 and 2019 is relatively small compared to Laos, where around 70 crocodiles were released this year alone.

“Thailand has the best system of national parks, real protected areas that function. They are well governed. They are well managed. They have scientific staff, enforcement staff, and that’s unique in the region. And there’s … a tremendous potential for Thailand to take the lead in Siamese crocodile conservation,” he said. “And we’re just not seeing that.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Products made from Siamese crocodile skins are on display at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A worker checks treated dried skins of Siamese crocodiles at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A Thai worker inspects Siamese crocodile skin at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              Siamese crocodiles are seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              Siamese crocodiles are seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              Siamese crocodile are seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              Siamese crocodiles are seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
            
              A Siamese crocodile is seen at Siracha Moda Farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on Nov. 7, 2022. Crocodile farmers in Thailand are suggesting a novel approach to saving the country’s dwindling number of endangered wild crocodiles. They want to relax regulations on cross-border trade of the reptiles and their parts to boost demand for products made from ones raised in captivity. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

AP

This photo provided by the Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department shows Chen Wu. Oklaho...
Associated Press

Man charged with killing 4 workers at Oklahoma pot farm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A man accused of killing four workers at an Oklahoma marijuana farm had demanded the return of his $300,000 investment in the operation shortly before he started shooting, prosecutors allege in court documents. Chen Wu, 45, was charged Friday in Kingfisher County with four counts of first-degree murder and one count […]
11 hours ago
Pearl Harbor survivor Lou Conter, 102, is seen at his home in Grass Valley, Calif., Friday, Nov. 18...
Associated Press

USS Arizona survivor: Honor those killed at Pearl Harbor

HONOLULU (AP) — USS Arizona sailor Lou Conter lived through the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor even though his battleship exploded and sank after being pierced by aerial bombs. That makes the now 101-year-old somewhat of a celebrity, especially on the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 assault. Many call him and others in the […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Memphis hospital: Halt to trans procedures is temporary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Memphis hospital says it has paused, not stopped, its gender-affirming services in response to possible legal action by civil rights advocates who argue the hospital’s move is illegal and discriminatory. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee accused Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare of halting all gender-affirming surgeries […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: Deputy killed deputy in ‘extremely dumb’ accident

PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) — A deputy mistakenly shot and killed his roommate, who was also a deputy, as the two took a break from playing an online game with friends while they were off duty, a Florida sheriff said. Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey called the shooting “an extremely dumb and totally avoidable accident” […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Trump Organization tax fraud trial in jury’s hands

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors started deliberating Monday in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial, weighing charges that former President Donald Trump’s company helped executives dodge personal income taxes on perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars. The deliberations follow a monthlong trial that featured testimony from seven witnesses, including longtime Trump Organization […]
11 hours ago
Passengers disembark from a train at the train station in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Tra...
Associated Press

Train service in Nigeria capital resumes after deadly attack

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Rail service in Nigeria’s capital city resumed on Monday, eight months after assailants attacked a train with explosives and gunfire, killing seven people and abducting dozens of passengers. Only a handful of passengers and armed security personnel were aboard the first trip from Abuja to neighboring Kaduna state. “We are not […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Thai crocodile farmers want trade restrictions relaxed