Current Distribution of Crocodylus acutus
SUMMARY OF DISTRIBUTION
Countries where present
Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, USA, Venezuela
Current presence unconfirmed
Cayman Islands, Martinique, San Andres Island, Trinidad
Countries where extirpated
None in recent history
ACCURACY OF DATA
Distribution is based on available data, last updated September 2012. The quality of those data vary between countries, some of which are recent and accurate, others of which are likely to be outdated or uncertain. This map presents our best guess as to where this species is currently found, based on historical maps and updated information provided primarly by local experts and IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group members. Additionally, C. porosus is a highly mobile species and the range of potential itinerants is large, and essentially any island, coastline or river that is accessible may potentially contain itinerant (ie. visiting, non-established) crocodiles. Areas of likely extirpation are typically that way due to loss of suitable habitat, although it remains possible though unlikely that small pockets exist unreported. The map and distribution notes below will be updated if new information become available.
DETAILED DISTRIBUTION BY COUNTRY
The remaining stronghold for the American crocodile within Belize lies within the offshore islands and atolls. On the mainland the species has been all but extirpated with small populations scattered in a few coastal water bodies. A small number of crocodiles are still present within the lagoons at Gales Point, the Chetumal Bay area bordering Mexico (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), the Rio Grande near Punta Gorda (Cherie Rose pers. comm.), and in other areas. Offshore populations are known from the Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Atoll (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye (Cherie Rose pers. comm.) , and other areas. The Turneffe Atoll holds the largest remaining American crocodile population in Belize, although it is possible this population may be in decline (Rainwater and Platt 2009). Habitat destruction and opportunistic killings appear to be serious issues facing the species within Belize.
The Cayman Islands (caimanes is the Spanish word for alligators) were named as such by Sir Francis Drake due to the large number of crocodiles (presumably American crocodiles) that he witnessed preying on nesting sea turtles along the island coasts in 1586. Later, during the 17th Century, William Dampier reported to have seen "many crocodiles on the bay" while in western Grand Cayman Island (Smith 2000). Sightings of such large numbers of crocodiles would imply a resident breeding population was present within the Cayman Islands historically. Today no breeding population exists within the region, but there has been a sudden surge of sightings (Cayman News Service 2009) and even a crocodile capture (McGowan 2007) around Grand Cayman in recent years, likely from nearby areas with large crocodile populations (e.g. Cuba).
The American crocodile was once widely distributed throughout the coastal and lowland portions of Colombia including the Caribbean/Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, as well as very far inland along the larger river systems. Historical records from the Pacific Coast suggest the species was once widespread within the extensive mangroves from Choco department through to Narino department and the Ecuadorian border. Along the Caribbean/Atlantic Coast the species was present in suitable habitat from Choco department and the Panamanian border through to the Venezuelan border and very far inland along the Sinu River and massive Magdalena River Basin. During the first half of the 20th Century major commercial hunting operations eliminated the species from most of its natural habitat and over 500,000 American crocodiles are believed to have been killed in Colombia alone during this period (Medem 1971). Today, well over half a century since the cessation of major hunting operations, the species has yet to substantially recover within Colombia and is still absent from most of its former range.
Along the Caribbean/Atlantic Coast populations have been rehabilitated within Cispata Bay near the mouth of the Sinu River (Thorbjarnarson 2010) and reintroduced to Portete Bay along the western coast of the Guajira Peninsula near the Venezuelan border (Gomez et al. 2009). Very small numbers of crocodiles have also recently been recorded from Via Parque Isla de Salamanca near the mouth of the Magdalena River (Balaguera-Reina and Gonzalez-Maya 2008) and Tayrona National Park northeast of Santa Maria (Balaguera-Reina et al. 2012). It is possible that small numbers of crocodiles persist elsewhere along the Caribbean/Atlantic Coast as well (e.g. Los Katios National Park) (UNEP/WCMC 2011). The species has been extirpated from most of the massive Magdalena River basin, although a couple of small populations are still scattered very far inland in the upper and middle Magdalena drainage (Rio Bache and Rio Man) (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). In 2012 a non-fatal attack on a fisherman by an American crocodile occurred in Santo Tomas municipality of Atlantico department, thus it is possible small numbers of crocodiles exist elsewhere within the Magdalena drainage. Along the Pacific Coast of Colombia the current status of the species is almost entirely unknown; habitat still exists, but it is unknown if the species ever recovered from the intense hunting of the early 20th Century. Surveys of this area are of vital importance to understand the status of the species within Colombia. Possibly the largest remaining American crocodile population within Colombia was relatively unknown until recently. A fatal attack on a young girl by a large crocodile within the Sardinata River of North Santander department near the Venezuelan border in 2009 prompted surveys within the area. Surveys of the Sardinata, San Miguel, Nuevo Presidente and Tibu Rivers yielded sightings of 196 crocodiles. It is believed that only 5-10% of crocodiles were actually visible during the surveys (this may vary depending on a number of factors), thus the number of crocodiles present within North Santander could potentially be in excess of 1000, but this requires further investigation (Redacción Vivir/Elespectador.com 2011).
American crocodiles are present along both the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts of Costa Rica, as well as far inland along some of the major rivers. Along the Atlantic Coast within Limon province the species is present in low numbers within the Matina River, Pacuare River and Tortuguero National Park (Abella et al. 2008), as well as along the San Juan River of both Limon and Alajuela provinces bordering Nicaragua (Thorbjarnarson 2010). An inland population is known from the wetlands of Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge in Alajuela province of north-central Costa Rica adjacent to the San Juan River via the Frio River (Escobedo-Galvan and Gonzalez-Maya 2008). The Pacific Coast is home to much larger populations within both Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces. Within the western/southwestern province of Puntarenas a large population is known from the Tarcoles River north of Jaco (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006) and other populations are known from the Tusubres River in Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge (Bolanos-Montero 2012) south of Jaco, the Terraba River and Sierpe River immediately north of the Osa Peninsula, and within the Esquinas River and Coto River along the Gulf of Dulce. Within the Osa Peninsula populations of the species are known from two large coastal lagoons (Pejeperro and Pejeperitto) near Corcovado National Park (Cotroneo 2012) , habitat in and around Puerto Jimenez and from some waterways within Corcovado National Park (e.g. the Sirena River). Within the northwestern province of Guanacaste exist what are likely the largest crocodile populations in Costa Rica. The Tempisque River Basin is home to an estimated 2,315 crocodiles within the main river channel and the many coastal and inland tributaries and marshes. The species persists far inland along the basin including within the Corobici River, Los Ahogados River and up past Guardia along the main channel (Bolanos-Montero 2012). Other Guanacaste province populations are found within Santa Rosa National Park (Naranjo Estuary and Laguna el Limbo) and the Tamarindo Estuary in Las Baulas National Park (Cotroneo 2010).
The American crocodile is widely distributed throughout Cuba and is currently confirmed from 14 of Cuba's 16 provinces, although it is possible undocumented populations exist elsewhere. Cuba holds the largest American crocodile population in the world and the species is even abundant in some areas. In the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio the species is found in the La Lena Keys and the coasts of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, coastal wetlands along the southern coast of the province, the Guadiana Swamp in the west, the inland Cuyaguateje River/Dam near Guane (CITES n.d.), the Colorados Archipelago off the northwestern coast (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), the Canerreos Archipelago east of the Isla de la Juventud and the San Felipe Keys west of the Isla de la Juventud. Within neighboring Artemisa province (formerly portions of both La Habana and Pinar del Rio provinces) the species is found within habitat around Honda Bay and La Ortigosa Bay along the northern coast and within wetlands along the southern coast. Within Mayabeque province American crocodiles are known from some man-made reservoirs, as well as wetlands along the southern coast including the westernmost portions of the Zapata Swamp. Within Matanzas province the species exists within the Zapata Swamp of the Zapata Peninsula where it is sympatric with the Cuban crocodile (C. rhombifer) in some areas, and is also found along the northern coast at the Hicacos Peninsula/Varadero area along Cardenas Bay. Cienfuegos province only has a southern coast, where American crocodiles can be found within the Arimao River and Guanaraca Lagoon, both southeast of Cienfuegos City. Villa Clara province, on the other hand, only has a northern coast and the species can be found within the lower Sagua River and within the western portion of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago. Within Sancti Spiritus province populations of the species can be found within suitable habitat along the northern coast (including portions of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago), inland within Zaza Dam (southeast of Sancti Spiritus City) and within wetlands along the southern coast, including the Jibaro rice fields. Within northern Ciego de Avila province the species is found within coastal habitat of both Moron and Bolivia municipalities (including Socorro Estuary, La Redonda Lagoon, Caonao River, and other areas), as well as within portions of the Saban-Camaguey Archipelago. Along the southern coast of the province the species is found within Boca Grande Lagoon and other areas.
Island populations are known from the Ana Maria Keys, portions of the Jardine de la Reina Archipelago and the Laberinto de Los Doce Leguas Keys. Within Camaguey province American crocodiles are present within habitat around the lower Maximo River in the north (as well as portions of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago) and along the southern coast within wetlands and portions of the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago. Las Tunas province holds populations within the La Isleta faunal refuge and other wetlands along the northern coast, as well as wetlands along the Guacanayabo Gulf along the southern coast. Granma province holds the single largest American crocodile population in Cuba (and likely the world) within the Delta del Cauto faunal refuge of the Cauto River: between 6,000 and 7,500 individuals are estimated to be present within the region. In addition to this massive population, a reintroduced population exists within Desembarco del Granma National Park near Cape Cruz. Only one population has been confirmed from Santiago de Cuba province and that occurs within the coastal Baconao Lagoon in the Baconao Biosphere Reserve. The Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) is a large island located between the Canerreos Archipelago and San Felipe Keys south of the Gulf of Batabano. Here American crocodiles are found within the Lanier Swamp and coastal waterways of the eastern, western and southern coasts. Within the northern portion of the Isla de la Juventud American crocodiles are found within man-made reservoirs (CITES n.d.). The species has been extirpated from Guantanamo Bay by the US Navy, apparently by 1919 (King et al. 1982), but in recent years the species has occasionally been sighted there (Lemm and Alberts n.d.); its status within Guantanamo and Holguin provinces is unspecified. No populations are known from the heavily populated Havana City (La Habana) province.
The American crocodile has been eliminated from almost all of its former range in the Dominican Republic and is only confirmed to remain in one area. The species currently persists within the hypersaline inland Lago Enriquillo (which lies very close to the brackish Haitian lake Etang Saumatre) (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). Fluctuations in the salinity level of the lake and poaching have caused the crocodile populations within the lake to change significantly over the past 30 years (Thorbjarnarson 2010).
The American crocodile is now rare within Ecuador and its status in many areas is unclear. Small populations are known to still occur within the mangroves around the Gulf of Guayaquil (Thorbjarnarson 2010) and within portions of the Tumbes River region bordering Peru (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), but little information is available from elsewhere. The species was once common within the Guayas River, but has been nearly eliminated from the region (Thorbjarnarson 2010). No official information is available from the coast north of Guayaquil, but recent sightings of large crocodiles within the Esmeraldas River (Chamorro 2012) in the northwest suggests that small populations may remain in some areas.
The American crocodile was once present throughout coastal El Salvador and even within some of the country's inland lakes such as Guija Lake along the Guatemalan border and El Jocotal's Lake near the Honduran border, but most of these populations have since been eliminated. Today the species is primarily restricted to some of the few remaining sections of suitable coastal habitat, particularly around the lower Lempa River region. Small populations are known to occur within Complejo Jaltepeque just to the north of the Lempa River, Jiquilisco's Bay just to the south and within the Lempa River itself. In addition, a small number of crocodiles are known to remain within the coastal Barra de Santiago region near the Guatemalan border. A 2002 survey resulted in 28 crocodile sightings with the vast majority coming from the Lempa River and the Samuria Island region of Jiquilisco's Bay. The growing human population within El Salvador and the subsequent reductions in habitat size pose a major threat to the survival of the American crocodile within El Salvador (Escobedo-Galvan et al. 2004).
Very little is known regarding the current status of the American crocodile in Guatemala. No surveys have been conducted in recent times and populations of the species have likely diminished significantly (Thorbjarnarson 2010). The species is said to persist within the Punta Manabique region along the small Caribbean Coast (Ramsar 2006) and within the Manchon-Guamuchal area along the Pacific Coast near the Mexican border (Castaneda 2000), in addition to other areas.
The American crocodile was historically present throughout Haiti including both the northern and southern coasts of the Tiburon Peninsula, all of coastal Gonave Island, far inland along the Artibonite River, and much of the northern coast. The species has since been eliminated from almost all of its Haitian range. In 1988 John Thorbjarnarson conducted surveys throughout Haiti and identified small remnant populations along the south-central coast of the Tiburon Peninsula (including Vache Island), western coastal Gonave Island, mangrove swamps at the mouth of the Artibonite River, the Massacre River along the northern border with the Dominican Republic, and the inland brackish lake Etang Saumatre (Thorbjarnarson 1988). The only area the American crocodile is confirmed to remain at the present time is within Etang Saumatre (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006) and the status of the other remnant populations identified in 1988 is unknown.
The American crocodile is present within portions of both the extensive Caribbean Coast and very limited Pacific Coast of Honduras. The Pacific Coast of Honduras comprises a very small area nestled between El Salvador and Nicaragua known as the Gulf of Fonseca and the American crocodile is present within the mangroves here. Along the Caribbean Coast the species can be found within the Chamelecon River, Ulua River, the Cape of Honduras area, and within portions of Mosquitia; the species persists very far inland along the Rio Coco bordering Nicaragua. Small off-shore populations are known from the Bay Islands, including Marino Barbareta National Park (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). The largest American crocodile population within Honduras (and one of the largest in the world) is located within El Cajon Dam approximately 100 km inland from the Caribbean Coast at the interception of the Humuya, Sulaco and Yure Rivers. The species is found within the dam and the adjacent rivers; recent surveys of the dam suggest that the population there is stable and breeding (Espinal and Escobedo-Galvan 2011). Populations have historically been reported from Lago de Yojoa southwest of El Cajon Dam and from Laguna Ticamaya near San Pedro Sula (Wilson and Hahn 1973) but the current status of these populations is unknown.
The status of the American crocodile within Jamaica has recently been described as "dire" and the species is facing possible extirpation from the island due to negative local attitudes towards the species, a demand for crocodile meat and habitat destruction. Currently the species is found mostly along the southern coast, as well as a few locations along the western, eastern and northern coasts. Along the northern coast there are small numbers near Falmouth/Martha Brae, along the western coast the species is known from the Great Morass (marsh) in Negril and along the eastern coast the species is found within waterways along Holland Bay and the Eastern Morass (marsh). Along the southern coast crocodiles still persist along portions of the Little Bay coast, throughout the upper and lower marshes, as well as the main channel, of the Black River, at Parrotee/Treasure Beach, within the Milk River and associated coastal wetlands, Portland Bight and locations along Old Harbour Bay, the Hellshire Hills area, portions of the Cobre River (near Kingston), Cow Bay, and the Yallahs Ponds (Henriques et al. 2012).
In Mexico the American crocodile is found in varying densities throughout the tropical coastal sections of the Pacific Coast and the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as a few coastal islands and one isolated inland population. In some of these areas American crocodiles can occasionally be seen swimming along the coast in the open ocean. Historically American crocodile populations occurred as far north as the Yaqui River of Sonora state just to the southeast of Guaymas and within the Mayo River, but the reduction of freshwater and the destruction of the coastal mangrove systems due to major agricultural influences eliminated populations from these regions. Today the northernmost American crocodile population is found at the mouth of the El Fuerte River in far northern Sinaloa near Los Mochis. While it is possible that a small number of crocodiles remain within the Agiabampo Bay region of southern Sonora, no breeding population remains within the state. Individual itinerant crocodiles have been found further north, including within the El Ciego Estuary near Guaymas in January of 1973 and historically even on Tiburon Island according to the Seri Indians (Carlos Navarro pers. comm.). In addition to the El Fuerte River, the species is also found in small numbers within a handful of other Sinaloa state localities including the El Verde Estuary along the coast north of Mazatlan (Navarro-Serment 2002) and the A.L. Mateos Dam north of Culiacan (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006).
In Nayarit the species is found in both coastal and inland regions including the mangrove region near San Blas and the Santiago River Basin as far inland as Aguamilpa Dam and even the Huaynamota River in eastern Nayarit (Paulino Ponce pers. comm.). Crocodiles are also found on Maria Magdalena Island of the Marias Islands off the Nayarit coast and a part of the San Blas municipality (Casas-Andreu 1992). Along the Nayarit/Jalisco border American crocodiles are present within the Ameca River up to 20 miles inland. In Jalisco crocodiles are known from 38 of 52 coastal water bodies including the Boca Negra Estuary near Puerto Vallarta, the Tomatlan River, the Cuitzmala River, and the La Manzanilla Estuary. The estuary at La Manzanilla consists of a high density of very large crocodiles (many over 4 meters in length and some reported to be over 5 meters in length), yet human-crocodile conflict is virtually unheard of in the area. In the areas near Puerto Vallarta (Boca Negra Estuary & the Marina Vallarta Golf Course), on the other hand, human-crocodile conflict (including one fatal attack and many non-fatal) has become an issue. These attacks usually occur on individuals engaged in illegally activity (i.e. trespassing into the golf course, stealing turtle eggs) or dangerous fishing methods. Other important Jalisco localities include the Majahuas Estuary, Chalacatepec Lagoon and the Agua Dulce Lagoon/El Ermitano Estuary region. In Colima the species is known to occur in Cuyutlan Lagoon (Armando Delgado Rubio pers. comm.), as well as within other coastal water bodies. In Michoacán American crocodile populations are known from Mata de Carrizo, El Pichi Estuary, Santa Ana Estuary, and other areas (Hurtado et al. 2006).
American crocodiles are found in coastal Guerrero state in the Bahia de Petucalco region (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006) and also within the coastal region between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. The 10 km coastal section between these two resort communities contains several water bodies containing crocodiles with the highest concentrations existing within the Playa Linda Estuary, Playa de la Ropa Estuary and the water hazards at the Palma Real Golf Course. The crocodiles within this region are mostly large (over 2.5 meters) and often travel between these coastal freshwater areas and the ocean (Domínguez-Laso and García-Reyes 2010). The species is present at various locations along the coast of Oaxaca state (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), including Chacahua Lake (which is also home to an invasive C. moreletii population) (Armando Delgado Rubio pers. comm.). Within Chiapas state coastal populations occur within suitable habitat from Puerto Arista to Rio Huixtla near the border with Guatemala. In addition to these coastal populations, a large inland population is known from a series of dams along the upper Grijalva River within Chiapas including Netzahualcoyotl, Chicoasen/Sumidero Canyon National Park, La Angostura, and even into Guatemala (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006).
On the Caribbean Coast of Mexico the current distribution of the species comprises the coastal Quintana Roo, Yucatan and northern Campeche states. In Quintana Roo populations are known from the Chetumal Bay region, Sian-Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006), the Cancun area (particularly Nichupte Lagoon, where attacks on humans have occurred), and the offshore islands of Cozumel and Banco Cinchorro (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). The species is far less numerous than the Morelet's crocodile (C. moreletii) within mainland southeastern Quintana Roo and a 2002 survey of the region resulted in only 42 American crocodile sightings compared to 599 Morelet's crocodile sightings (Cedeno-Vazquez et al. 2006). Within Yucatan state the species is present alongside the Morelet's crocodile within Ria Lagartos, but the population is said to be very small (Smardon 2009). The present day Campeche state limit of the species is the Los Petenes-Ria Celestun National Park north of Campeche city. Historically the American crocodile was present throughout the entire coastal Campeche state, as well as within Tobasco state and the southern-middle coastal portion of Veracruz state. In Tobasco the species existed throughout the entire Grijalva River system (including all tributaries) up into Chiapas state where the isolated inland population persists into the present day. American crocodiles were likely extirpated from the Veracruz and Tobasco states by the 1950s (Luis Sigler pers. comm.).
American crocodile populations are known from both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts of Nicaragua, as well as within some inland regions. Along the Caribbean Coast the species occurs in varying densities throughout the Miskito Coast region from Rio Coco along the border with Honduras south to the Punta Gorda River. A substantial population is known from the San Juan River along the border with Costa Rica. American crocodiles exist throughout the entire San Juan River into the massive Lake Nicaragua (including a very small population on Ometepe Island) and up the Tipitapa River into the adjacent Lake Managua. Along the Pacific Coast populations exist within the Estero Real region near the Golfo de Fonseca of Honduras, the Padre Ramos Nature Reserve, the Corinto region, and the Puerto Sandino region (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). In 2011 a small number of crocodiles were present and even bit a person in a creek at Cusmajil of Palacagüina (Rodríguez 2011), an elevated region well outside of the species assumed Nicaraguan range.
The American crocodile is present within areas along both coasts of Panama, as well as within the Panama Canal. Along the Caribbean Coast small numbers are present within Laguna de Chiriqui near the Costa Rican border and large numbers exist within the Caribbean Panama Canal region, including the massive Gatun Lake. Along the Pacific Coast populations are known from the Bahia de Charco Azul area, Bahia Montijo (Rio San Pablo, Rio San Pedro, etc.), a few portions of the heavily human-populated Pacific Panama Canal region (including Lake Miraflores), and from portions of Darien province (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). Attacks on humans have recent been reported from the Gulf of Parita region west of the Panama Canal, suggesting a presence of some kind there. Coiba Island, which lies to the southwest of Bahia Montijo, is home to a large population of crocodiles believed to number between 500 and 1000 individuals (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). The species is also known from the Las Perlas Archipelago within the Gulf of Panama (UNDP 2005), but no details are available.
The American crocodile reaches the southernmost portion of its range within northern Peru where historically populations extended as far south as the Chira River. The species has since been eliminated from the Chira River and survives only within the Tumbes River region in extreme northwestern Peru along the border with Ecuador (Escobedo-Galvan and Vargas 2003). The species is currently present within the Corrales Estuary at the Tumbes River mouth and within the Amotape Hills National Park region within the upper Tumbes River (Thorbjarnarson et al. 2006). Surveys of the Tumbes River in the early 2000's recorded extremely low densities, including a large proportion of juveniles (Escobedo-Galvan and Vargas 2003), indicating that successful breeding still occurs.
The historical and current range of the American crocodile within the United States is limited to the southern half of Florida (Kushlan and Mazzotti 1989). The American crocodile is a tropical species and cannot tolerate the same level of cold weather that the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is capable of withstanding, thus freezing winter temperatures restrict the species from colonizing portions of the United States north of southern Florida. For example, in early 2010 a 10 day cold spell in southern Florida resulted in the deaths of at least 150 adult American crocodiles (but had no effect on the American alligator population). The historical distribution of the American crocodile in Florida likely extended to Tampa Bay along the west coast, Palm Beach County along the east coast (Joe Wasilewski pers. comm.) and south to Key West in the Florida Keys (Kushlan and Mazzotti 1989). The species has rebounded significantly from a low of between 150 and 300 non-hatchlings in the 1970's to approximately 2000 non-hatchlings today, including approximately 400 non-hatchlings within the cooling canals of Turkey Point Power Plant of Biscayne Bay (Joe Wasilewski pers. comm.)
American crocodile populations within Venezuela are known to have once ranged along the coast from the Colombian border east to the Paria Peninsula, as well as within some inland regions and on at least one nearby island. Currently the population is restricted to scattered localities throughout this original distribution and substantial populations are minimal. In the west of the country the species is found in the Los Olivitos Wildlife Refuge near the mouth of Lake Maracaibo (Villarroel et al. 2005) and within the Santa Ana River basin, which is connected to southwestern Lake Maracaibo and holds a breeding population (Barros et al. 2010). Shortly to the east of Lake Maracaibo are two reservoirs which also contain American crocodile populations: Pueblo Viejo Reservoir and Burro Negro Reservoir. Further to the east a fairly continuous group of populations are found within eastern Falcon state, Yaracuy state through to eastern Carabobo state; these populations of varying size exist within the Hueque River, Tucurere River, Tacarigua Reservoir, Jatira Reservoir, Tocuyo River, Cuare Wildlife Refuge, Morrocoy National Park, Aroa River, Yaracuy River, Cumaripa Reservoir, and Turiamo. Further to the east in Miranda state the species is known to occur within the Rio Chico Canals and within Lake Tacarigua. The species reaches its current easternmost distribution limit within Anzoategui state just to the west of the Paria Peninsula; here very small numbers of American crocodiles have been reported from Uchire Lagoon, Unare River, Piritu Lagoon, and Neveri River (Villarroel et al. 2005). The species is known to have formerly existed on Margarita Island (Marites Lagoon) and further to the east in localities on the Paria Peninsula, but these populations may have been extirpated (Andres Seijas pers. comm.).
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