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Flora & Fauna

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Birth control for crocodiles at Vandalur

This is the first time in the world that a non-invasive birth control surgery on Mugger crocodiles has been conducted.

Jul 26, 2008, 06.18 AM IST
Chennai Crocodile Bank (TOI Photo)
Chennai Crocodile Bank (TOI Photo)
CHENNAI: Surgeons of the Madras Veterinary College, have performed a non-invasive birth control surgery on Mugger crocodiles in Vandalur Zoo to control breeding and inbreeding. This is the first time in the world that such a surgery has been conducted, says zoo authorities.

The surgery was performed on two male Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) crocodiles two weeks ago. The team comprised Dr R Sureshkumar, professor and head; Dr B Justin William, professor; and Dr Capt G Dhanan Jaya Rao, associate professor of the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology.

"It takes an hour to anaesthetise the crocodile and another hour for the surgery itself," says Dr B Justin. "And it takes the reptile three to six hours, or even three days to revive." The doctors stress that the procedure is different from castration and only involves the fusion of the spermatazoan groove to prevent sperm transfer.

The anaesthetic procedure and surgical technique involved will not endanger the life of the crocodile, the experts say. "Neither will it change its behaviour pattern," says Dr P Thangaraj, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS). "Also, since reptiles have good regenerative powers, the effects of the surgery may only be temporary and the animals may be able to breed after six months."

While the surgery is the first of its kind to be conducted, not all experts subscribe to it. Nikhil Whitaker, curator of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) says, "I feel the best way to control numbers is to segregate the crocodiles in separate enclosures. It���s good that they have been able to do such a surgery but I have reservations about the ethics of it. And we would not be adopting any such measures at the MCBT."
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