Crocodilian images which reveal fascinating stories told from a visual perspective.
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Master of the Air-Water Interface
Cannibalism has been observed in many crocodilian species, and probably exists in them all. In saltwater crocodiles, at least, it is not as barbaric a mechanism as it sounds, and in fact is an important factor in controlling population growth. When populations of saltwater crocodiles are healthy, there is much nesting and many hatchlings enter the population. However, with insufficient habitat and resources to support them all, it is beneficial for the existing population if few of these hatchlings survive very long. If the population is depleted, however, there will be fewer adults to prey upon the hatchlings, and survival of the young becomes much greater - an adaptive mechanism to ensure faster recruitment of young into the population to aid recovery of numbers. This has been in operation in the saltwater crocodile population in the Northern Territory, whose numbers were greatly depleted by extensive hunting between 1945 and 1971. High survival of the juveniles in the 70's following protection has led to a rapid recovery of the population which now approaches the carrying capacity of the habitat in many areas, l eading of course to greater cannibalism of the young once again. This is bad news if you're a baby saltwater crocodile, but good news for saltwater crocodiles in Australia as a whole - a testament to their ability to survive.
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