Switzerland returns 16 “Moroccan” crocodiles that disappeared

Switzerland returns 16 “Moroccan” crocodiles that disappeared

West African crocodiles were returned to Morocco on Wednesday, after evolving in Switzerland. This is a breed of crocodile typical of the West African region, a desert species that lived for centuries in Morocco before disappearing from its natural habitat.

A group of 16 small crocodiles, ranging in length from 42 centimeters to 1.06 meters, were returned to Morocco, 60 years after they disappeared. Of the total reptiles, fourteen hatched in 2022 and two in 2019.

They were bred at the Aquatis Aquarium in Lausanne and transported to Geneva before traveling to Morocco to begin their gradual reintroduction to their natural habitat.

According to the director of the Swiss aquarium, Michel Ansermet, reported by the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA, the young crocodiles were moving in individual compartments, adding that “the animals were equipped with electronic chips, especially for customs clearance.”

Ansermet said they were transferred to the southern Moroccan city at night “to avoid exposing the animals to extreme heat.” The choice of Agadir was explained because it is home to the Crocopark, a crocodile zoo, the only one in Morocco.

Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA reported that baby desert crocodiles arrived in Agadir as part of a unique project to protect species in Africa. The aforementioned species protection project is the first of its kind on the African continent.

The crocodiles in question lived for many years in Morocco before disappearing. The preservation of their species has only been possible through the work of zoos abroad, especially in France and Switzerland.

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This type of crocodile differs genetically from the larger Nile crocodile, which can weigh more than a ton and lives in most parts of Africa, including the Great Lakes region and the Nile Basin. This type of crocodile in particular does not exceed two or two and a half meters in length and used to live in swamps or “ghilta” before its disappearance.

A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), The Living Planet Report 2022, warns of the rapid and alarming disappearance of the world's wildlife, noting that nearly 69% of the world's wildlife has disappeared in less than half a century, including… This is the complete disappearance of some species that did not benefit from the conservation and reintroduction programme.

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