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Crocodile Bank

Several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators bred in captivity are kept here in open pools. Visitors can view the reptiles from close but safe proximity. There is also a small snake farm here that conducts demonstrations of venom extraction.

The crocodiles are left in their natural surroundings in open pools. It is run by Romulve Whittaker. The Crocodile Bank occupies an area of 3.2 hectares and has been established with an aim to protect and conserve the endangered reptiles. About 5,000 species are kept in their natural surroundings in open pools.

Tourists in large numbers visit this place to see a variety of reptiles, all in one place. This farm breeds crocodile to augment the crocodile population of the wildlife sanctuaries. The emerald green canopy of lush tropical vegetation provides ample shade both to the thousands of crocodilians that lie on the water-banks with their jaws wide open as well as to the curious onlookers. As you walk into this crocodile conservation centre, the atmosphere at once feels riverine. There is a faint smell of fish and moss in the damp air. And you may hear the sound of a creature splashing into the water or of the young jostling for crabs fed to them in their enclosures. Down in the pens, you see thousands of juveniles lying cheek by jowl, basking in the sun by the water tanks. The Age of the Reptiles, which occurred over two million years ago, is not a thing of the past, but it is a real moment any time at the Madras Crocodile Bank.

Started in 1976 with just twenty-five reptiles, the Bank today faces a crocodile population explosion (mainly the Mugger) with over 7,000 inmates. A countrywide crocodile conservation programme was launched to save these ancient reptiles that have survived the passing of dinosaurs. The Bank today has about seven crocodilian species including the three Indian types. The Indian species include the 3.6 metre long Marsh/Mugger variety which is the most widely distributed species once found in all lowland water systems including the arid State of Rajasthan; the four to five metre long Gharials, the crocodile with the longest jaw which has a pot like snout; and the largest of reptiles, the Saltwater crocodiles, eight metres long and 900 kilogrammes in weight, found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Sunderbans in West Bengal and in coastal Orissa. There are 25 species of crocodiles in the world. The species found here other than the Indian varieties have been donated by foreign zoos and croc farms. They are: Morlet's crocodile from Mexico, the Spectacled Caimen from S outh America, Nile and the Dwarf crocodile from Africa, Siamese crocodile and the American Alligator.

The Bank is neatly divided into two rows of pens, which include nurseries and breeding pits. Signboards posted at the head of enclosures provide visitors interesting facts. The Saltwater crocodiles, the only crocodiles dangerous to humans known to attack and eat humans, are powerful swimmers. This is the only species to stay in sea for a long time. Although crocodiles are among the unloved creatures of the wilderness, they are known to perform a significant ecological role. As predators and scavengers, they help to raise the genetic quality of prey by selective feeding on the sick, weak and injured fish. Their presence is also known to increase river and lack productivity as they feed on predators of commercially valuable fish.

The Crocodile Bank, which disseminates scientific information collected from its on-going research projects on the biology of crocodiles, also conducts research on turtles and monitor lizards (the crocodile's environmental partners) found in common habitats. Captive breeding of crocodiles for the purpose of releasing them in the wild and restocking protected sites has been undertaken in river Chambal, Mahanadi and in Andhra Pradesh. But releasing them in unprotected sites is not viable. Only in places like the Madras Crocodile Bank have these earliest of reptiles found their guarantee for survival.


It is 42 kms towards Mahabalipuram.

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