Siamese crocodiles were once found over most of Southeast Asia, but during the past century — when their fatally fashionable hides became a lucrative commodity — hunting and trapping all but wiped out the entire species.
msnbc.com
updated 12/8/2003 1:55:32 PM ET 2003-12-08T18:55:32

On an epic quest to save one of the world’s most endangered animals, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer contributing correspondent Dr. Brady Barr travels deep into the Cambodian mountains to locate one of the last remaining wild populations of Siamese crocodiles. Premieres Sunday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. ET

For years, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer contributing correspondent Dr. Brady Barr has traveled the globe to find and study reptiles of all kinds. Now, he is on a mission like no other: an epic quest to help save one of the world’s most endangered animals — the Siamese crocodile.

Siamese crocodiles were once found over most of Southeast Asia, but during the past century — when their fatally fashionable hides became a lucrative commodity — hunting and trapping all but wiped out the entire species. Today, only a handful of Siamese crocodiles is known to exist in the wild and their chance of making a comeback on their on own is tenuous. Without the help of humans, the Siamese crocodiles could become extinct.

Barr has joined forces with Yosapong Temsiripong, a Thai herpetologist and crocodile farmer who wants to save the Siamese croc. Temsiripong’s plan is to release farm-raised crocodiles into the wild in hopes of giving the species a better chance for survival. But scientists fear that many captive-bred crocs have been crossbred with other species over the years, creating strains of animals that are no longer true Siamese crocodiles. Before Temsiripong can release any animals into the wild, he needs to ensure their pedigree, or else the genetic integrity of the species could be lost forever.

To help fulfill Temsiripong’s plan, Barr ventures to a remote corner of neighboring Cambodia, where scientist Jenny Daltry and Cambodian wildlife official Dany Chheang have recently found what appears to be an isolated and previously unknown population of wild Siamese crocodiles. If Barr can collect tissue samples from these pure Siamese crocs, researchers can compare their DNA to captive Siamese crocs and determine which crocs should be bred and released into the wild. While Barr has captured some of the world’s biggest and most elusive crocs, Siamese crocodiles are wary and shy, and may prove to be his biggest challenge yet. If he is successful, it will bring him one step closer to becoming the first person to get up close and personal with all 23 species of crocs.

Join Ultimate Explorer for this exciting journey across some of Cambodia’s toughest terrain in an attempt to bring a species back from the brink of extinction.

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