Cuban experts work DNA for the study of the Cuban crocodile

Zapata Swamp,an outstanding wetland in Cuba
HAVANA, July 27 (ACN) The study of environmental DNA will make it possible to verify the presence of the Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) in its habitat in this western region,as a new tool in favor of the conservation of the species exclusive to the Caribbean island.The technique successfully used worldwide, will use the genetic material that the organisms throw into the environment, specifically in the water in the case of the emblematic saurians of this area with the category of National Park, located about 180 kilometers southeast of Havana.

Ethian Arturo Perez, a biologist at the hatchery dedicated to promoting the species, told the Cuban News Agency that the environmental DNA will help to know if predators and other species on which they feed are present.

Perez stressed that there are several projects underway to safeguard the reptiles, such as the development of a mobile application to differentiate in photographs whether it is an American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), Cuban or hybrid, by means of 3D morphometry.

He also mentioned the efforts to reintroduce specimens bred in captivity to the natural environment, and the monitoring of their movement by means of satellite tags; the device placed on the animal’s neck emits a signal and makes it possible to visualize its position every four hours.

In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Crocodylus rhombifer as critically endangered, and it is considered the rarest species of crocodile, having the smallest natural habitat of all those that currently exist.

Illegal hunting motivated mainly by meat consumption, climate change and hybridization with Crocodylus acutus are some of the factors that threaten the survival of the Cuban crocodile.