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Dwarf Crocodiles


amphibs and reptiles


The Gambia has a rich herps fauna with 107 species comprising 33 species of amphibians and 74 species of reptile, including crocodiles, snakes, turtles, tortoise, terrapins, chameleons, worm lizards, monitors, and skinks. These are the species known to occur, but research in The Gambia on this group is extremely limited and it is likely that additional species will be found in coming years.

The West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)  is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on CITES Appendix I. In The Gambia, it is officially extinct, having been lost at its only known site, Abuko (confirmed by extensive surveys in 2000). However, in 2010, our team was surveying critically endangered hooded vultures when we noticed a small crocodile that appeared to have the characteristic dark eyes of this species (C. suchus has pale eyes). We later used photographs to confirm that it was indeed a dwarf crocodile. Since then, we have revisited the site regularly and have not only confirmed its continued presence, but we’ve also proven that the pond is a breeding site. We have also surveyed other water bodies nearby and believe that dwarf crocodiles may be present elsewhere. 


Our findings made the local newspaper.


Our team receiving croc capturing and handling training from Shaun Fogget, Founder of Crocodiles of the World.


Evening torchlight surveys.

The importance of the project

We currently only know of one location left with dwarf crocodiles; baby crocodiles are vulnerable to predation by a wide range of animals, including humans. The best way to make sure that some young survive is to head-start them. This involves taking some into protective captivity until they are almost mature and only vulnerable to larger crocodiles and hunting. Then they can be released into protected areas that they once would have occurred to establish and strengthen breeding populations.


We plan to do so with the help from our good friend, Luc Paziaud, owner of the Reptile Education Centre in Kartong, who has built a head-starting facility in preparation for the babies. Our aim is to continue surveying waterbodies and collect some babies for him in the very near future. We have also liaised with multiple crocodile specialists and prepared suitable forest sites for the release of the head-started crocodiles. 

How Can You Help

You can support our conservation work by getting onboard and joining one of our research expeditions (open-group) or organising your own academic fieldcourse (for academic professionals).


We are currently organising a herps focused expedition for 2025, however in the mean time, you can join any other upcoming expedition, whereby herps projects are still funded and supported through these trips.

if you're interested in being involved with a herps research expedition, subscribe below and be the first to know!

Alternatively, you can donate to us to support our projects and in turn, support the local communities in the Smiling Coast.

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