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By David Kapi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 22) - Ambunti district in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea is hosting a two-day crocodile festival with the theme Luksave Na Kirapim Wok bilong Lukautim Pukpuk.

The festival, which will start next Thursday, is aimed at making available information on crocodile farming, preserving their habitat and making resource developers and local communities aware of the threat human activities impose on crocodiles.

Some of the activities that threaten crocodiles’ livelihood are mining, logging, exploration and agriculture expansion and dangers of commercial exploitation of crocodile skin and eggs.

It is a community-oriented development activity sponsored and supported by World Wide Fund (WWF) and the Department of Environment and Conservation in collaboration with the local communities.

WWF (PNG) fresh water program manager David Peter said it was also an opportunity to let communities know the importance of sustainable development and the importance of its biodiversity towards eco-tourism.

"WWF (PNG) and the Department of Environment and Conservation are involving communities to fully realize the Sepik River network plan in order to mobilize and integrate conservation and development activities by local clans and villagers in the area," Mr. Peter said. "Crocodiles are one of the important and iconic species in the area. It is best we save this cultural icon for us as people and also a tourist attraction as well as for commercial gains in a proper way."

The Sepik River has two species of crocodile - salt-water crocodile (crocodilus porosus), which grows to over 10 meters, and is highly sought for its skin, and fresh water crocodile (crocodilus novaeguineas), which is common in PNG and grows to a length of 3 to 4 meters.

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