The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus Porosus) is a crocodilian native to saltwater habitats and brackish wetlands from India's east coast across Southeast Asia and the Sundaic region to northern Australia and Micronesia. It was hunted for its skin throughout its range up to the 1970s, and is threatened by illegal killing and habitat loss.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile and crocodilian known to science. Males grow to a length of up to 20 ft, or a weight of 2,200–2,900 lb. Females are much smaller and rarely surpass 10 ft. It is also known as the estuarine crocodile, Indo-Pacific crocodile, marine crocodile, sea crocodile or informally as saltie.
The saltwater crocodile is a large and opportunistic hypercarnivorous apex predator. It is capable of prevailing over almost any animal that enters its territory, including other apex predators such as sharks, varieties of freshwater and saltwater fish including pelagic species, invertebrates such as crustaceans, various reptiles, birds, and mammals.
The saltwater crocodile was often hunted for its meat and eggs, and its skin is the most commercially valuable of any crocodilian. Unregulated hunting during the 20th century caused a dramatic decline in the species throughout its range, with the population in northern Australia reduced by 95% by 1971. The species currently has full legal protection in all Australian states and territories where it is found. Illegal hunting still persists in some areas, and many areas have not recovered.
Habitat loss continues to be a major problem for the species. Even where large areas of suitable habitat remain, subtle habitat alterations can be a problem, such as in the Andaman Islands, where freshwater areas, used for nesting, are being increasingly converted to human agriculture. The greatest immediate challenge to implementing conservation efforts has been the occasional danger the species can pose to humans, and the resulting negative view of the crocodile.