Crocodile species brawl for food and shelter and threaten conservation efforts

The spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) occupy the same space and eat the same food, which could generate competition between the two species and perhaps delay the recovery of the conservation-dependent black caiman crocodile.

The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon and is considered dependent on conservation efforts to survive.

They are suffering low population numbers from being nearly hunted to extinction in the mid-1900s.

There are strict anti-hunting laws and protected areas to help their population numbers increase, but they are still targets for poachers.

In addition, the spectacled caiman threatens the black caiman’s recovery because they eat the same food and live in the same areas causing competition amongst the two animals.

Spectacled caiman in Colombia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

This smaller spectacled caiman’s population growth is four times that of the black caiman because they reach their full size faster and have the ability to reproduce sooner.

Studies have shown that they have similar diets, but there is no evidence that concludes that food competition is affecting the black caiman’s population numbers.

Black caiman. Photo by: Eric Maxwell.
Black caiman. Photo by: Eric Maxwell.

It is possible for both crocodiles can live together without affecting the black caiman’s population numbers since the spectacled caiman can be an additional food source for them.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Crocodilian competition may hinder conservation efforts in Amazon


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