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El Nino may kill endangered Australian crocodiles, warn experts

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 7:35 IST

The forecast delay to Australia's wet season from the predicted "Godzilla" El Nino weather system could see larger numbers of endangered salt water crocodiles die waiting for rain, warn experts.

Australia's wet season, characterized by heavy monsoonal rains across northern Australia, typically starts in November and ends around April, however the country's weather bureau is predicting a delayed start to rains until next year from the "Godzilla" described El Nino.

The prolonged dry spell could mean the end to more endangered salt water crocodiles that are caught too far from river systems as waters recede, Xinhua news agency reported.

Crocs often bury themselves in the mud, however sometimes they get trapped and overheat, suffering from sunburn and dehydration, crocodile biologist Professor Grahame Webb told Australia's national broadcaster on Tuesday.

"The sooner the rains come, the sooner these trapped animals will be able to get out and back to the rivers," Webb told the ABC, noting they are able to live off fat reserves for extended periods.

While it's difficult to predict how many of the iconic reptile will die during the dry spell due to isolation, Kakadu National Park crocodile management supervisor Gary Lindner said a lot of them will die as the dry spell drags on, particularly during October to January.

"It's like humans, if you don't have water and you're out on those hot areas, you basically get dehydrated and die," Lindner said.

Lindner had previously found 29 crocodile carcasses that had become stranded in a dried mud hole after missing monsoonal rains by two weeks.

First published: 3 November 2015, 11:07 IST