|Date||26 Mar 2018|
The Critically Endangered West African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) is one of the world’s rarest and least studied crocodilians (Shirley, 2010). Although known to occur very sparsely in many West African countries, significant populations have been recorded in only Tai National Park, Côte d’Ivoire (M. Shirley, pers. comm.). Mecistops cataphractus populations in Ghana is believed to be experiencing rapid decline due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting, human-crocodile conflicts and other anthropogenic related disturbances.
The potential of Obuasi Municipality to hold a significant population of M. cataphractus came to public notice when a video of an adult killed in front of a house went viral on social media (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl5pYm6MbpE). Since then several individuals have also been killed after they were spotted in fish ponds. In response, we conducted reconnaissance surveys in March and May 2017 and recorded 21 individuals along 8 km stretch of the Jimi River. This is staggering considering that earlier surveys covering 726.4 km across 25 sites in Ghana and 21 in Côte d’Ivoire recorded only 14 individuals (Shirley, 2007). Unfortunately, this population is threatened by the increasing habitat disturbance and human-crocodile conflicts. Hence we aim to determine population status and distribution of M. cataphractus while mitigating threats through awareness campaigns and local capacity building.
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