The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology

By the mid 20th century hunting crocodilians was a lucrative enterprise throughout the tropics, and by the 1970s, India’s croc populations had been exploited to the brink of extinction. Realizing this fact, the Indian government protected all three species of Indian crocodilian under the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972.

Responding to the need of that time, Rom and Zai Whitaker established the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust in 1976 with the specific goal of securing breeding populations of the three species of Indian crocodile: the mugger (Crocodylus palustris), the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and the rarest of all, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus).

The Croc Bank was originally designed to be a living genetic repository of crocodiles for safekeeping, to protect and multiply until such time when they could be returned to restock their original wild habitats. This action was initially met with tremendous success, but today, release into the wild has stopped due to shrinking wilderness areas and the lack of suitable habitat.

Today Croc Bank is home to 17 species of crocodilians, three of which are listed by the IUCN as critically endangered with a further three listed as threatened.

As the need for the conservation of reptiles grew, the Croc Bank increased its repertoire to include turtles, lizards and snakes and it came to be known as the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpetology in 2003. The Croc Bank now successfully breeds several species of threatened chelonians, including two listed as critically endangered.

The Croc Bank is far more than a typical zoo and in fact our core operation is as much a field based conservation outfit as it is a collection of captive animals for safekeeping. with two permanent field stations and several projects running concurrently.

The last few years have seen some major developments at the Croc Bank. A young and dynamic management team has taken over the helm of the main operation spurring on exciting new changes. The Croc Bank Masterplan will soon come into action and there is plenty of excitement in store.