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Desert crocodiles in the Sahara

01/09/2006 00:00:00 news/desert-crocodile
It’s hard to believe that 8-ton, dinosaur-eating ‘Super Crocs’ roamed the Sahara 110 million years ago. More incredibly, perhaps, latter day versions are still living there. Historically, the Nile crocodile used to be found all around the Sahara and even on the Mediterrenean coast. In the desert, permanent water in big rivers and pools in the Ennedi, Tibesti, Hoggar and Tassili were until a century ago their home. Food mostly consists of the numerous barbel and catfish that inhabit the same waters.
Crocodile head. © Sandscript
Today the best known remaining relict populations can be found in the Ennedi mountains of Chad (photo) and the Tagant in Mauritania. The Tagant population was thought to have disappeared in 1996 when the ‘last’ head was brought in for scientific research after the animal itself had been eaten by local inhabitants (photo). It was a big surprise when in 2007 Ursula Steiner photographed at least three crocs. Unless there is permanent water, desert crocs aestivate in deep burrows during the hot season. This is probably why the Tagant group had been overlooked for so long.

This article was taken from Sandscript, the newsletter of the Sahara Conservation Fund.

The current edition also includes articles on the following:

• Wild Addax.
• Cybertracking desert wildlife.
• Niger ostrich project.
• Floods in the Sahara.
• Fennec fox
• Friends of the Sahara

Click here to read the newsletter

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