TED Case Studies

Nile Crocodile Trade

      CASE NUMBER:    203
      CASE NAME:      Nile Crocodile Trade

A.   Identification

1. The Issue 

     The trade of the Nile crocodile has become an environmental
concern especially in the Republic of Tanzania.  Crocodile skins
are being exported from Tanzania in large quantities due to the
high demand for leather goods.  The Nile crocodile skins are being
exported for the luxury leather goods market including shoes,
handbags and belts, especially to Japan, Italy and France. 
However, this trade has caused the Nile crocodile to be classified
as an endangered species.  As a result, the United States along
with 120 other countries throughout the world have joined in
signing the Convention on International Trade and Endangered
Species of World Fauna and Flora (CITES) treaty in 1973 to ban
skins from endangered or potentially endangered species, such as
the Nile crocodile, from being traded.  In April 1994, the
classification of the Nile crocodile was changed from endangered to
threatened as a result of various acts and treaties protecting this
species.  Although crocodiles from the entire continent of Africa
will be mentioned, this case study will focus on the Nile Crocodile
in Tanzania.

2. Description 

     In Tanzania, two different types of crocodile species exist. 
The slender snouted crocodile (Crocodylus cataphractus) is limited
and almost confined to Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania. 
Another species, the nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is
widespread throughout Tanzania(See Appendix 1).  The Nile
crocodiles, in particular, have been a source of highly durable
leather for a variety of products which can be crafted and
     As will be described in more detail in the concluding section
on culture, natives use crocodile parts as a part of their culture
for decorations on ceremonial accessories.  Crocodile parts have
also been used by natives in sacrificial rites.  Moreover, 
crocodile meat is eaten by tribal people in Tanzania and especially
in Western Africa.  Recently, crocodiles have been used for meat
and meat products for human consumption outside of tribal regions. 
     Skeletal bones and osteoderms of the crocodile are being used
for nutritional supplements in agriculture and animal feeds, and
teeth and claws are being sold primarily to tourists as curios. 
In addition, crocodiles have been used for medicinal purposes.  The
body fat and oil of crocodiles is believed to cure skin ulcers,
burns and respiratory ailments.  The news of the healing powers of
crocodile fat has spread to other countries and the demand for
these medicine is increasing.  For instance, it has already been
reported that the recent outbreak of crocodile poaching in the
Dominican Republic and Haiti is related to the use of crocodile fat
as a folk remedy for asthma.
     However, the utilization of crocodile parts for cultural
purposes is limited as compared to the leather exports for the
high-fashion world.  The Nile crocodile skin has been used for
purses, shoes and other leather protects primarily sold in the
United States, Europe and East Asian countries such as Italy,
France and Japan, respectively.  Commercial utilization is
generally on a large scale involving large number of people.  
     The trade of crocodile skins has become a lucrative business
due to the high prices paid for reptile-leather products.  The core
market of middle to upper class consumers and annual sales are
relatively stable.  However, recently it appears that the vast
majority of the average, middle-class consumers are unwilling to
pay $1,500-$3,00 for a crocodilian handbag, $600-$800 for shoes or
$300 for a belt.  According to a World Wildlife Fund(WWF) trade
in wildlife report, 50 million reptile manufactured products are
being traded each year, with a declared value of $475-500 million. 
 The report also states that crocodiles are ranched or hunted for
commercial use in a legal and controlled manner as will be
mentioned in more detail.
     Between the years 1950-1980, it was estimated that
approximately three million crocodiles were killed for their
skins.  Due to increasingly adverse environmental pressures and
populations that have encroached on crocodile habitats and the
overutilizing of crocodiles for commercial exotic leather trade,
crocodiles have been close to extinction.  
     Consequently, populations of the Nile crocodile are being
"conserved" and "encouraged" where they do not conflict with
legitimate human interests.  The aims of the Nile crocodile
management are as follows: to maintain and increase their overall
numbers to produce a sustainable harvest; to regulate and control
their numbers where appropriate; to manage the crocodiles for the
benefit of local communities.
     The conservation of the Nile crocodile has been difficult due
in part to the fact that many people are not fond of the crocodile. 
In fact, crocodiles have caused damage and loss of human life and
property in many parts of Tanzania outside of protected areas.  An
updated 1994 proposal requested a "wild harvest quota of 2,000
annually and presented updated and improved data on human mortality
due to crocodiles."  However, after discussions, it was agreed
that the actual number of large crocodiles removed from the wild to
protect human life was not a critical issue and that a wild harvest
of between 200 - 2,000 annually might be required.  The figure of
2,000 seemed inconsistent with recent nuisance crocodile control of
fewer than 200 per year.
     According to Crocodile Specialist Parren Ross, it is certainly
more difficult to conserve a species when they are not liked. 
However, conservation programs in East Africa have been relatively
successful.  Conservation programs spread to Tanzania in the last
ten years, but have not been as successful for a number of reasons. 
The systematic differences in Tanzania's political system, its
underdeveloped infrastructure and excessive government intervention
have hindered progress in Tanzania.
     Environmental pressures led to conventions, such as CITES,
which have protected the trade of species of plants and animals
considered to be endangered.  The CITES treaty, signed in 1973 and
entered into force on July 1, 1975, has banned the trade of skins
and fur of endangered species.  The fundamental principle of CITES
is that all species which although not necessarily now threatened
with extinction may become so unless the trade in parts of the
species is subject to strict regulation.  The Nile Crocodile is
listed in Appendix II of the CITES appendices as "not as present
endangered."  The protection of the Nile crocodile can also be seen
in the success of CITES, whereby the Nile crocodile has not been
imported to the United States since 1973.
     The Wildlife Conservation Act No. 12 of 1974 and its
subsequent amendments and supplements are other measures that
ensure the proper protection of wildlife including the Nile
crocodile.  National parks, which cover 5% of Tanzania's surface
area, are utilized for purposes of eco-tourism only.  As a result,
crocodile utilization for eggs, hatchlings and legal hunting is
strictly prohibited in national parks.  Game reserves cover 10% of
Tanzania's surface area and cannot be entered without permission
from the Director of Wildlife or a permit.    
     Consumptive utilization of crocodiles is permitted within
national parks under the National Parks Ordinance CAP 412 of
1959.  However, the crocodiles habitat also includes rivers,
lakes swamps and wetlands in the wild, outside of these national
parks. Crocodiles were still being killed in the wild and traded
illegally.  The two main exploitable crocodile populations appear
to be the Selous Game Reserve and the Lake Rukwa populations (See
Appendix 2).  Efforts were made in the most recent CITES
Convention in Fort Lauderdale to set quotas and require
documentation of where the crocodiles were hunted to prevent wild
crocodile from being killed.  For example, careful records are
required on the location, size and numbers of animals removed. 
It is important to note that crocodiles are the most scarce outside
of protected areas and consequently need to be conserved the most
in these areas.
     Game Division reports in Tanzania exhibited that trade in
crocodile skin was still prevalent in the 1980s and early 1990s. 
The exported skins were obtained from the wild, legalized under the
premises established by CITES provision of Resolution Conference
5.21.  Exported skins were tagged and corresponding CITES export
certificates were also issued.  Thus, the trade of crocodile
skins has continued in a "so-called" legal manner.
     Despite ranching/farming efforts, the illegal trade of Nile
crocodiles is also transpiring in this region.  To implement the
results of Operation Uhai, an effort to protect certain species in
June 1989, a country-wide crackdown on poachers and illegal dealers
and traders of wildlife products occurred in 1994.  A force of 2000
army personnel, the police force and the Wildlife Division were a
part of the nation-wide operation effect.  The poaching of most
species was also abolished.  It is significant to note that three
million U.S. dollars were spent during the approximately two year
control effort.  These funds were provided through the United
States Congress in the form of aid, originally designated for the
prevention elephant poaching, as well as through funds provided by
     The failure to strictly enforce the bans specified in the
CITES treaty represents another factor contributing to the
continuation of crocodilian trade.  Countries which are a part of
CITES selectively decide which bans to enforce in their particular
country.  East Asian countries such as Taiwan, which have not
joined CITES, continue to import endangered species such as
reptiles. The CITES treaty also does not include provisions for
habitat loss.  In addition, imported goods such as crocodile
skins are often not inspected by customs agents at country borders. 
Illegal trade has become not only a regional problem but also a
global problem.
     The farming and/or ranching of Nile crocodiles, legalized
under Tanzania national law, has led to a decrease in illegal
trading activity.  Ranching has been defined according to CITES
Resolution Conference 3.15 and may be may be defined for the
proposal of the Wildlife Conservation Act as: "the rearing, in a
controlled environment, of the specimen, usually eggs or hatchling
crocodile, taken from the wild with the intent of engaging in
trade."  The increase in quality Nile crocodile from farms and
ranches is supplementing the demand for skins obtained from the
wild, legal and illegal.  Farming and ranching have also led to a
decrease in poaching.  It is speculated that skins from farms and
ranches should replace the killing of crocodiles in the wild
completely.  Nile crocodile ranching and farming has provided a
new perspective of the crocodile which has included more protection
for the wild.  "Without this change in approach most crocodile
populations outside of game reserves would become extinct in
Africa."  In contrast to national law, in order to trade
crocodiles internationally, provisions must be made under CITES,
Appendix II.
     Nile crocodiles have not been traded as live species up to
date although this issue has been discussed.  Some ranching
operators had wanted to export live crocodile specimens for trade
but the recipients canceled the orders.  It appears that ranching
operators could receive a greater profit if they engaged in the
export of live crocodiles.  A demand for live, adult crocodiles
exists for breading purposes from countries outside of Tanzania,
which have established captivity breading farms.  The price for a
live crocodile is approximately $1,000, compared to $200-300 for
crocodile skins from a dead crocodile.  If we see the
commencement of the shipment of live Nile crocodiles, it is
certainly possible that the Nile crocodile could become extinct. 
Moreover, often live crocodiles and reptiles are fed drugs and
killed after a shipment since customs inspection appears to be rare
for animal products.
     Currently other dangers are beginning to occur outside of
Tanzania which are threatening the Nile crocodile.  For example,
habitat modification and accidental kills of the Nile crocodile
have been reported.  In Natal, Lake St. Lucia is becoming
increasingly saline due to the removal of water for irrigation
purposes upstream.  In Kenya, fishing with gill nets is entrapping
crocodiles under water, causing the species to drown.  Nile
crocodiles need to be continually monitored and hunting quotas
strictly enforced to maintain the species' present distribution.  
     The survival of the crocodile species depends in a large part
on proposals and plans which have been devised in order to maintain
the Nile crocodile population, particularly in Tanzania.  The
success of efforts to preserve these species has been viewed in the
past year since Nile crocodiles have been reclassified from
endangered to threatened species.  It is crucial that
environmentalists continue to strive to preserve these species so
that crocodiles will not revert to become endangered species again.
4.   Related Cases and Key Words

     REPTILE Case

5.   Draft author: Gina E. Beck    
B.   Legal Cluster
     The killing of wild Nile crocodiles is a violation of
international treaties, such as CITES.  
6.   Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete
7.   Forum and Scope: TANZANia and ITALY
8.   Decision Breadth:  116 
9.   Legal Standing: TREATY
     The CITES (Convention on International Trade and Endangered
Species of World Fauna and Flora) treaty was signed in 1973 and
entered into effect on July 1, 1975.  The fundamental principle of
CITES was that all species which although not necessarily at the
present time may not be threatened with extinction may become so
unless the trade in species is subject to strict regulation(see
Text of CITES).
C.   Geographic Cluster
10.  Geographic Locations
     Continental Domain: Africa
     Geographic Site: South Africa
     Geographic Impact: Tanzania
     The Nile crocodile exists in countries throughout Africa,
excluding countries in the extreme north and south although this
case study focuses on the Republic of Tanzania. 
11.  Sub-National Factors: No
     The prohibition of crocodiles remains primarily on the level
of National parks and game reserves.  As aforementioned, human
activity is controlled in stable crocodile habitats, including
National Parks and Game Reserves on the national level.  Thus, the
hunting and tourist hunting of crocodiles is prohibited and  under
strict control on the national level.  Furthermore, in certain
local areas, tourist hunting is also under strict control.
12.  Type of habitat: [TROP] Tropical Rainy Forest and Savanna
D.   Trade Clusters
13.  Type of Measure: IMBAN and EXBAN
    The countries signing the CITES treaty specified that the skins
of endangered species should be banned from either exportation or
importation.  All exports of crocodile products must be in
accordance with CITES and the Wildlife Conservation Act No. 12 of
14.  Direct vs. Indirect: DIRECT
    This measure would be considered direct as opposed to indirect
since the ban itself has substantially changed the practices by
which the Nile crocodile kills have occurred. 
15.  Relation of Measure to Impact
          a. Directly Related:  YES  CROCodile
          b. Indirectly Related: NO
          c. Not Related to Product: NO
          d. Process related: NO  Species Loss Land [SPLL]
    This issue is not process related since the killing of
crocodiles for their skin does not directly threaten another
species or the environment.
16.  Trade Product Identification:  REPTILE 
17.  Economic Data

     The following tables include data, as well as projections for
the trade of the Nile crocodiles:

Table A: Summary of Nile Crocodile Trophies Exported from Tanzania 1982-1995
YearType of TrophyQuantity1982Full Skins2071983Full Skins251984Full Skins01985Full Skins2071986Full Skins4771987Full Skins1,4561988Full Skins1,8041989Full Skins1,9801990Full Skins1,0401991Full Skins8191992Full Skins4591993Full Skins148Source: CITES Annual Reports - Tanzania, (See p. 8 in Amended Proposal
from the Republic of Tanzania).

Table B: Actual Exports of Wild Crocodile Skins from Tanzania

CroppingControlSport HuntingAgreed
QuotaActual
ExportsAgreed
QuotaActual Exports1987--2,0001,456100N/A1988--2,0001,80410081989--2,0001,980100431990--1,0001,000100401991--1,000819100261992--400400100591993--200120100281994--200--100--Source: CITES Annual Reports - Tanzania,(See p. 8-9 in Amended Proposal
from the Republic of Tanzania).

Table C: Actual Exports of Ranched Crocodiles/Skins from Tanzania

YearRanchingAgreed Egg/
Hatchling QuotaActual
CollectedAgreed Skin
QuotaActual Skin/Live
Crocodile Export19904,0001,3704,000019916,0005,5006,0000199228,0004,0006,0000199328,0004,5006,0000199428,000--6,0000Source: CITES Annual Reports - Tanzania (See p. 8-9 in Amended Proposal
from the Republic of Tanzania).

Table D: Proposed/Projected Crocodile Harvest from Tanzania 1995-1997

YearAgreed Ranched
Eggs/HatchlingsRequest for Wild
QuotaRevised Quota
RequestsAgreed Sport
Hunting199528,0005,0002,000100199628,0004,0002,000100199728,0003,0002,000100Source: CITES Annual Reports - Tanzania, (See p. 9 in Amended Proposal
from the Republic of Tanzania).

Table E.  Expected Proposed Exports
YearSport HuntingRanchingWild Skins1995100As per quota limit5,0001996100--4,0001997100--3,000Source: CITES Annual Reports - Tanzania, (See p. 9 in Amended Proposal
from the Republic of Tanzania.

     The previous tables demonstrate that the Nile crocodile trade
has decreased in terms of quantity of full skins being exported. 
It also appears that quotas are overall being met.  Theses
crocodile exports are being imported primarily by Japan, France,
Germany and Italy.  However, it is projected that farming, ranching
and sport hunting of crocodiles will remain active in the future. 
     In any case, it is important to note that export regulations
are being stressed.  In a recent crocodile management proposal, it
was specified that "all crocodile products for export will be
tagged in accordance with CITES regulations.  Exporters will also
be required to reimburse the Department for CITES tags purchased on
their behalf."  Other stipulations include the issuance of CITES
export documents on receipt of a detailed packing list, including
skin size, tag number and a copy of the original invoice to the
purchaser.  On the exports of ranched skins, a fixed levy of
Tanzanian Shillings per skin, equivalent to 3% of the gross value
in 1994, will be charged.
18.  Degree of Competitive Impact:  LOW
19.  Industry Sector:  LEATH
20.  Exporters and Importers: Tanzania and Italy
     Crocodile skins are being imported primarily by Italy and
France and to a lesser extent Spain.  Prior to 1973, the United
States was also a leading importer.  Crocodile skins, parts or
other derivatives are not traded within Tanzania.  The Policy and
Management for Crocodiles in Tanzania state that the utilization of
crocodiles involves ranching and sporting within the premises of
Resolution Conference 3.15 of CITES (Policy for Crocodile
Management in Tanzania, 1993: see copy).  Management plans are
currently being revised which will impose stricter domestic
measures and control on crocodile conservation and utilization.  

E.   Environmental Cluster
21.  Environmental Problem Type:  SPLL

22.  Species Information

          a. Name of Species: Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus,
          Laurenti 1768).
          b. Number of Species: 74,000-76,000
          c. Species Genera: Reptile

     J.L. Tello estimated that 74,000 crocodiles existed in
Tanzania, cited in CITES Nile Crocodile Survey in CITES working
document and appendices 1987 (pp.67-83).  M. Katalihwwa and R. Lema
used information from Tello and estimated that 76,000 crocodiles
exist in Tanzania in a report to the Director of Wildlife in

23. Impact and Effect: HIGH and REGULatory

   The trades' impact on the environmental problem is a major
factor since it has threatened millions of crocodiles including the
Nile crocodile species.  This environmental problem is in the
category of resource depletion since it encompasses the loss of a
species.  The negative effects include the trading of endangered
24.  Urgency and Lifetime: LOW and about 20 years

     The lifespan of the Nile crocodile can be as long as 100 years
although the majority of Nile crocodile do not live to this age. 
Some wildlife management specialists estimate a death rate of 90%
within the first year of life.  However, once adulthood is reached,
the mortality rate diminishes rapidly.

24.  Substitutes: SYNTH

    A synthetic material imitating the look of crocodile skin is
used for various goods including shoes, purses and belts.  
Artificial "crocodile leather" satisfies consumers, especially as
quality improves and it is becoming increasingly difficult to
distinguish the artificial product from the genuine product.

F.   Other Factors

25.  Culture:  YES

     Although crocodile products being used for culturally purposes
are limited when compared to the export of crocodiles for luxury,
leather goods, cultural uses cannot be underestimated.  Crocodile
parts are an integral part of native ceremonies in the form of
ceremonial accessories and ornaments.
26.  Human Rights: NO
27.  Trans-Border: YES
    The trade of crocodile skins certainly represents a trans-
border.  As aforementioned, it is interesting to note that
crocodile skins are not traded within Tanzania.  Therefore,
Tanzania is involved in the export of these species across its

28.  Relevant Literature

Alderton, David.  Crocodiles and Alligators of the World.  New
     York, Facts On  File, 1991.

"Alligators and Crocodiles Struggle Against Extinction."         
     Television Program: Science and Technology Week -- CNN      
     152  (January 30, 1993.

CITES, 1987.  A Conservation Tool.  A guide to Amending the
     Appendices to the Convention on International Trade in
     Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Prepared for
     the Conference of the Parties Ottawa, Canada July 12-24th

Craig, G.C., D. Gibson and J.M. Hutton.  The CITES Nile Crocodile
     Project.  Publication of the Secretariat of CITES,          
     Lausanne, Switzerland, 1992.  A Population Model of the Nile
     Crocodile and Simulation of Different Harvesting Strategies. 

Games. I. and E.L.M. Severre.  Report to the Director of         
     Wildlife, Tanzania and the CITES Nile Crocodile Project: A  
     Survey of Crocodile Densities in the Selous Game Reserve and
     Adjacent Game Controlled Areas.  Tanzania, September 1989.

Games. I. and E.L.M. Severre.  Report to the Director of         
     Wildlife: A Survey of Crocodiles Densities in Tanzania,     
     October, 1990.

Games. I. and E.L.M. Severre.  Proceedings of the 11th Working
     Meeting of the IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group: The
     Status and Distribution of Crocodile sin Tanzania           
     Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Vol. I: 119-137.

Games. I. and E.L.M. Severre.  A Report to the Director of       
     Wildlife: Tanzania Crocodile Study, November 1993.

Graham, A.D. I.S.C. Parker.  Unpublished Data on Aerial Survey of
     the Rufiji River, 1964.

Haas, Ann. "Nile Crocodile Reclassified From Endangered to       
     Threatened."  Endangered Species UPDATE 11 (April 1994):    

Hirji, K.N. Interim report on counting crocodiles in Lake Rukwa,  
     Wildlife Division, Dar es Salaam.

Hutton, J.M. M. Katalihwa.  Report to the Director of Wildlife,   
     Tanzania: The Status and Distribution of Crocodiles ion the  
     Region of the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, 1988.

Katalihwa, M. and R. Lema.  The Status and Management of the Nile
     Crocodile in Tanzania in Hutton J.M. et. al.: Proceedings of
     the SADCC Workshop on Management and Utilization of Crocodiles
     in the SADCC Region of Africa: 33-38.

"Management Plan for the Nile Crocodile in Tanzania."  Gount of
     Tanzania (1993): 41-46.

Policy and Management Plan for the Crocodile in Tanzania.         
     Department of Wildlife, 1992.  

"Policy for Crocodile Management in Tanzania."  Gount of         
     Tanzania (1993): 40.

Ross, Charles.  Crocodiles and Alligators.  New York: Facts on
     File, 1989

Ross, James Parren, executive officer, Florida Museum of Natural 
     History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 
     Interview by author, 4 April 1995.  Telephone interview.

Ross, James Parren, "Medicinal Use of Crocodilians," SPECIES,
     Newsletter of the Species Survival Commission IUCN 19,
     December 1992: 49.

"Tanzania."  Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter 13 (October-
     December 1994): 4.

Tello, J.L.  CITES Nile Crocodile Survey in CITIES working       
     document and Appendices 1987: 67-83.

Wildlife Division, 1987.  An Annual report of the Wildlife       
     Division, Dar es Salaam.

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