Endangered Siamese crocodile in rare sighting at Thai national park

BANGKOK (AFP) – The critically endangered Siamese crocodile has been spotted for only the second time in a decade at Thailand’s largest national park, according to photos released on Saturday.

This undated handout camera trap photo released by Kaeng Krachan National Park on January 23, 2021 shows a freshwater Siamese crocodile, a critically endangered species native to southeast Asia, at Kaeng Krachan National Park in central Thailand. (Photo by Handout / Kaeng Krachan National Park / AFP)

The freshwater reptile – snapped by camera traps sunning itself at Kaeng Krachan National Park near the Thai border with Myanmar – was once ubiquitous across Southeast Asia, but its numbers have plummeted in the region. It is currently listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.

National park officials estimate only about 20 remain in the wild because of hunting and habitat loss, but on Saturday the nature reserve shared a rare spot of good news.

The crocodile – never seen before by officials – was captured by cameras slithering out of the water, before it parked itself on the river bank open-jawed under the sun.