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Crowdfunding plan to save miniature crocodile

By Patrick Nelson

Dr Adam Britton … invites donors to engage in pygmy crocodile research Dr Adam Britton … invites donors to engage in pygmy crocodile research

A Charles Darwin University scientist who launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to raise research dollars to save the pygmy freshwater crocodile says he remains hopeful of reaching the funding target.

But researcher Dr Adam Britton said an increase in pledges was needed if the $11,500 goal was to be reached by the December 14 deadline.

The Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods zoologist said he was grateful to the 75 supporters who had pledged $7405 in the first two weeks of the 21-day campaign.

A corporate donor has committed $500 to the campaign, which placed them in line for an informative two-hour presentation about crocodiles.

Dr Britton said the funding would be invested into a project to determine how best to arrest the dramatic drop in pygmy crocodile numbers.

“Last time we visited their habitat, four out of five crocodiles had disappeared, having been poisoned by the cane toad,” Dr Britton said.

“The crowdfunding project will allow us to return to the area to find out if there are any signs of population recovery.

“This information is vital for us to know what conservation action to take; for example setting up a captive breeding colony as a type of insurance policy.”

Dr Britton said researchers had a second important motive for returning to the two known habitats of the pygmy crocodile, which includes the upstream escarpments of Bullo River Station.

“An analysis of DNA samples gathered a few years ago was sufficiently different from standard freshwater crocodiles to catch our attention,” he said.

“We were quite excited about the results, because it raised some very interesting questions about how these tiny crocodiles came to be as they are.

“We’d like to gather more tissue samples to further explore just how unique these tiny little crocodiles could be if our hypothesis is correct. Pygmy crocodiles might make a bigger splash than their size implies.”

Dr Britton said the rewards-based crowdfunding campaign on the Pozible platform offered the online public an opportunity to engage with researchers and make a big difference to these tiny crocodiles.

“The greater the investment, the greater the reward,” he said.

“At the high end, we’re offering one donor an opportunity to join the research team on a personal wild crocodile tour where they will spend a day diving safely with Smaug, a five-metre saltwater crocodile.

“We are also offering silver jewellery, a limited run of a unique piece of crocodile art, a bound print copy of the research report, and access to blog reports among the incentives, depending on the value of the donation.”

View the “Tiny toothies – saving pygmy crocs” crowdfunding website at