Target: Venezuelan Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Alejandro Hitcher
Goal: Protect vanishing Orinoco crocodile
The Orinoco crocodile is the largest predator in South America. There used to millions of them along the banks of the great river after which it is named. Due to the popularity of their skin in high fashion, they have been hunted to near extinction. Thanks to worldwide demand for crocodile-skin boots, handbags, and coats, only an estimated 1,500 crocodiles remain in the wild.
Conservation efforts face various challenges. In a wave of nationalization, many of the ranches and hatcheries were expropriated by the government. Now, lack of coordination between government and private efforts means shaky funding and limited success for conservation projects. Omar Hernández, the director of an environmental foundation called Fudeci, explains the situation for the New York Times: “a properly defined program with funding and objectives doesn’t exist. The animal is in critical danger.”
Meanwhile, local people often kill the crocodiles, seeking to prevent attacks. Eggs are eaten as food and baby crocs are captured and sold as pets.
We humans have put these animals in danger. It is we who must save them from it. Please sign the petition below, and urge coordinated conservation efforts that include ecological education.
Dear Minister Hitcher,
I am writing to bring your attention to the endangered status of the Orinoco crocodile. They have been hunted to near extinction to feed the worldwide demand for high fashion items made from their skin. Now, there are as few as 1,500 crocodiles left in the wild.
As the largest predator in South America, the Orinoco crocodile not only carries tremendous ecological importance, but it also represents the wild, tenacious natural environment that we are rapidly destroying in our race to develop. I urge you to improve coordination between existing government and private conservation efforts and to support environmental education both to prevent locals’ killing of the animals and to halt the egg and pet trade. The extinction of this animal is preventable. Please use your leadership to protect this vulnerable species and the natural environment of which is it is part.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: lassonertsen.blog.hu