By
OurAmazingPlanet
updated 2/9/2012 2:19:40 PM ET 2012-02-09T19:19:40

Conservationists working in Uganda are finding new areas that are home to one of the least known crocodilians in Africa, the pygmy Nile crocodile.

A team of Ugandan researchers trained by the late John Thorbjarnarson, a noted crocodilian expert with the Wildlife Conservation Society, is conducting population surveys of these poorly understood crocodiles in Kidepo Valley National Park.

Pygmy Nile crocodiles were reconfirmed as still present in Uganda only three years ago, and their conservation status remains unknown.

Crocodilians are an order of animals that includes alligators, crocodiles and other large reptiles.

In 2011, scientists lead by Matthew H. Shirley of the University of Florida discovered that pygmy Nile crocodiles are not a smaller race of the more common Nile crocodile but actually a unique population of a distinct crocodile species distributed throughout West Africa.

The Wildlife Conservation Society research team also has found evidence of young crocodiles in new areas.

Thorbjarnarson died at the age of 52 on Feb. 14, 2010, from malaria.

"It is an honor to continue John’s work in Uganda to protect the pygmy Nile crocodile," said Carol Bogezi, a WCS field coordinator in Uganda. "John trained us on how to survey and handle crocodiles, and we apply what he taught us every day."

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