What Does the CSG Do?
The IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) is a worldwide network of biologists, wildlife managers, government officials, independent researchers, non-government (NGO) representatives, farmers, traders, tanners, fashion leaders, and private companies actively involved in the conservation of the world's 23 living species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gharial in the wild.
As one of more than 100 species specialist groups operating under the auspices of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest consortium of conservation organizations and agencies, the CSG works closely with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other international intergovernmental bodies to promote crocodilian conservation and legal trade that does not threaten the survival of these important reptiles.
The CSG Chairman is Professor Grahame Webb (Australia). He is supported by Deputy Chairmen Dr. Dietrich Jelden (Germany) and Alejandro Larriera (Argentina), and Executive Officer Tom Dacey (Australia). The CSG Steering Committee is made up of the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the 8 regions, 8 Thematic Groups, 3 Task Force/Working Groups, the CSG Red List Authority and Honorary Members. There are currently around 450 CSG members.
Working meetings of the CSG are held every two years. Here, CSG members and others have an opportunity to present their work as well as meet and exchange ideas with others working in various parts of the world. Papers presented during working meetings are published as CSG Proceedings. The working meetings also provide a venue for the meeting of the CSG Steering Committee.
The CSG network of experts advises governments and wildlife management agencies, evaluates the conservation needs of crocodilian populations, initiates research projects, conducts surveys of wild populations, provides technical information and training, initiates conservation programs, etc. The CSG’s administrative and publishing budget is raised almost entirely from private donations.
In 1971, when the CSG was founded, all 23 species of crocodilians were endangered or threatened. By 1996, after 25 years of considerable effort, one-third of the species (8) were sufficiently abundant to support well-regulated annual harvests, one-third of the species (8) were no longer in danger of extinction but were not harvested, and one-third of the species (7) remain endangered. No other group of vertebrate animals has undergone such a dramatic improvement in conservation status.
The key to this success is the cooperation of companies involved in the international reptile skin and leather trade, crocodilian farmers and ranchers, skin traders, tanners, manufacturers, fashion designers, and major retailers. Today, the crocodilian skin industry views conservation as an investment in the future that is equivalent to investing in new equipment and technology. Many of the companies contribute to conservation projects and actively curtail illegal trade.
However, the conservation efforts of the CSG are not finished. The 7 endangered crocodilian species, and some threatened populations of more abundant species, require further conservation action.
The CSG can be reached through its Executive Officer, Tom Dacey.