Sixteen additional crocodile farms have been approved under an international conservation treaty to export Siamese crocodiles, bringing the total number of recognised farms in Cambodia to 21, according to a government official.
There are 445 registered crocodile farms in Cambodia, according to In Hul, deputy director of the Fisheries Conservation Department at the Agriculture Ministry, but only about 5 percent have recognition from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Siamese crocodiles are critically endangered and only a few hundred remain in the wild, according to Cites, which bans farmers from exporting the animals without permission from the intergovernmental body.
Five Cambodian farms were granted permission in 1999, and the 16 additional farms had been added to the permitted exporter list since July last year.
“Siamese crocodiles were assigned the endangered species label, so Cites will protect them and identify the quota of our crocodiles for exporting, in order to protect them further,” Hul said yesterday.
Ly Fem, a crocodile farmer in Siem Reap province’s Krabei Riel commune, was one of the 16 farmers who recently received an exemption from Cites. Fem said he planned to export his first baby crocodiles to Thailand in June.
“This is what I was waiting for,” Fem said yesterday, adding he was looking for Chinese investors to expand his operation now that he is able to legally export the animals abroad.
Recognition under Cites also allows for the export of crocodile products, but Hul from the Agriculture Ministry said Cambodia still lacked the ability to process crocodiles on a large scale.
“Most of the crocodile farmers prefer to sell baby crocodiles rather than skin, as the capacity and technicians to produce quality [products] is limited,” he said.