Wild populations of crocodiles were seriously depleted in many parts of the world after the Second World War, due to over-exploitation for their skins. However, a demand for skins had been created and in order to satisfy this, and at the same time to ease pressure on remaining wild stocks, attempts to raise and manage various species in captivity were made .
During the 1970's, FAO executed milestone crocodile management projects in India and Papua New Guinea. The first was notable for hatching and rearing hundreds of the endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) in captivity, to bring the species back from the brink of extinction. The second, developed approaches to crocodile management which both involved and improved benefits to rural people. It also became the model used for designing other sustainable crocodile utilization programmes that met the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Subsequently, FAO has been active in providing assistance to other countries, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in Africa and Latin America. Thus, in addition to technologies and documentation generated by various workers in this field, there was a wealth of in-house experience to draw upon in compiling this Manual.
We gratefully acknowledge the services of Mr. Melvin Bolton, the consultant who prepared these guidelines. He was particularly well equipped to undertake this task. He worked on the FAO/UNDP Large-Scale Project "Assistance to the Crocodile Skin Industry" in Papua New Guinea (as project manager in the latter stages) and then undertook a number of consultancies on crocodile husbandry in other countries.
We hope that this document will be of practical value to persons in the developing world, who are concerned with the management of crocodiles in captivity. Any comments or suggestions for its improvement would be welcome.