Crocodile Skin: Conservation Through Utilization of An Ancient Species
A long time ago, on an unrecognizable planet Earth, drastic changes were afoot. As plant life exploded, oxygen levels and temperatures were at levels far higher than today, giving rise to enormous, cold blooded reptiles, who dominated the planet; the dinosaurs. From roughly 200 to 66 million years ago, these terrible lizards, as their name means in Greek, reigned supreme on the planet, with all other lifeforms cowering before them, growing into whatever ecological niche was spared by the supreme overlords of the planet. Or so you might believe.
Illustrative image of an archosaur, the group that was the ancestor of both, the dinosaurs and the crocodilians.
Let's rewind the clock a bit. It's 262 million years ago, and our planet has spent approximately the last 30 million years in the Permian period. The tectonic plates have fused together into a giant supercontinent, Pangaea and the synapsids and reptiles, new groups of terrestrial vertebrates, are making their presence felt. But then the Permian-Triassic extinction event, more ominously known as the Great Dying, the most severe extinction event in the planet's history, wiped out up to 83 percent of all genera on the planet, leaving behind a sparsely populated world ready to be dominated by the reptiles.
A restored crurotarsan species, Protome batalaria.
The Triassic period began in the backdrop of the Great Dying, and the Archosaurs emerged as the phoenix of life on Earth. This group soon splintered into two major groups, one that contained the famed dinosaurs of old, and another that played host to the crocodilians. For thirty million years (an incredibly long period, considering modern humans have only been around for less than 200,000 years), these two groups competed in a Darwinian struggle that defined the age, and the victory of the dinosaurs was anything but certain. These early Crocodilians were nothing like the crocodiles of today, and sported an amazing array of diverse features, including herbivores and carnivores of vastly different types. In fact, they showed an even greater range of body types, lifestyles, and behaviors than dinosaurs, a fact that some modern scholars believe is an indication that they were, in fact, winning the race.
Ultimately, another extinction event, some two hundred million years ago, ended up playing wild card, hitting the croc ancestors harder than their dinosaur counterparts for reasons that are not fully understand, and giving way to their incredibly long domination through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, lasting approximately 200 million to 66 million years ago. However, although the crocodiles were indeed down in this period, they were anything but out.
Culture Kraze is proud to present this incredibly lifelike bronze statue of a prowling crocodile.
The ultimate survivors, many of the crocodile species we know today had already appeared onto the scene in time for the (likely) meteor impact that abruptly ended the reign of the dinosaurs. While we cannot say for sure why that is the case, whether it is their near-universal diet, ability to go without food for up to a year, armored skin, or high intelligence, we do know that modern crocodiles emerged unscathed, getting the last laugh over their dinosaur cousins. In fact, in the 66 million years since the last major extinction event they have barely changed at all, Mother Nature's way of saying if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Sobek, the ancient Egyptian crocodile-headed God, was just one example of the many deities inspired by these fearsome creatures across human history and cultures.
These ancient apex predators have shared a long and complex history with humans. Owing to their size, speed, stealth and incredibly powerful bite and tail, our ancestors soon learned to both fear and respect these beasts. Crocodiles have played an important role in Hindu, ancient Egyptian, and New World religions, and have been the ultimate coastal and riverbank nightmare for us as far back as our collective memory goes. Sadly, due to a combination of hunting for skin and meat, and expansion of human settlements, crocodile populations began to take a hit in the 1800s. In the last two hundred years, a strong market has emerged for crocodile skin due to its incredibly high quality leather. In the 20th century, the industry grew rapidly, and some of the most beautiful bags and garments to be created were crafted out of the skins of crocodiles, slowly but surely driving them towards extinction. By the 1970s, crocodile populations had fallen drastically in parts of Asia, Africa and Australia due to excessive hunting for their skins, and the absence of this apex predator was beginning to create disastrous ecological effects.
Culture Kraze offers you this authentic African crocodile skin shoulder bag, perfect for men and women, and made from 100% crocodile skin, sourced entirely from humane and sustainable farms.
Fortunately, in 1975, the CITES treaty was signed by almost all members of the United Nations, pledging to prevent vulnerable species from slipping into extinction. Since that watershed moment, the crocodile skin trade has undergone a sea change, from being the primary driver of extinction, to setting the stage for a comeback. Thanks to CITES oversight and certifications, crocodile farms have been set up in over 30 countries, with strict standards governing humane conditions for raising and utilizing crocodiles, and companies involved in the trade being encouraged to participate in conservation efforts. These farms incubate and hatch crocodile eggs, some of which are then returned to the wild. In fact, the proportion of these returned to the wild is larger than those that survive naturally, fueling a growth in populations that allowed the alligator to be removed from the endangered species list in 1987! No group has undergone such a sea change in its conservation status as the crocodilians have through the modern "conservation through utilization" program. So much so that now, when you purchase a crocodile skin product with raw material sourced from a CITES certified farm, you actually help to preserve this incredible species, and become a part of a story. The story of an amazing species that, through 66 million years of a changing world, remains proud and timeless as ever.