68

Chinese Alligator

East Asia

68

Alligator sinensis

Endangered

  • Human killings
  • Habitat destruction

Considered as one of the only two alligator species in the world, the Chinese Alligator which is also called Yangtze Alligator has less than 100 in its remaining population and is endemic to six regions of China. Historically, locals refer to it as the muddy dragon and it is the only crocodillian species that cannot be found within the Americas.

The Chinese Alligator is just half the size of its famous closest relative, American Alligator and is also one of the smallest among all crocodilian species at just five feet and 100 pounds during adulthood. Its blunt teeth are specifically designed for crushing shelled animals and small mammals but also being a carnivorous opportunistic feeder, it will also eat what’s readily available – from rodents and insects to aquatic birds and invertebrates.

Top reasons for its rapid population decrease are overhunting and habitat degradation. For decades, alligators are hunted and killed out of fear and a belief that these creatures as pests. Most people consider alligator flesh as local delicacy while its other organs are sold for as an ingredient for traditional medicine. The 1957 winter flooding of the Yangtze River caused fatal drowning for the Chinese Alligator population while insecticide runoff from nearby farmlands poisoned the rats, which are its main food source, and subsequently the alligators as well. As more and more of its natural habitat are converted for agricultural use, it affected the normal breeding cycle and also disturbed its feeding grounds.