Levels of DDTs and other organochlorine pesticides in healthy wild Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) from a flagship conservation area
Gerber, R.; Bouwman, H.; Govender, D.; Ishizuka, M.; Ikenaka, Y.; Yohannes, Y.B.; Smit, N.J.; Wepener, V.
Chemosphere 264(Part 1): 128368
Mass Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) deaths in Africa's premier conservation area, the Kruger National Park (KNP), prompted numerous studies to determine possible causes of the sudden die-offs. The majority highlighted the involvement of the anthropocene to crocodile mass mortalities. One of the potential causative agents was identified as legacy compounds such as organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) present in the various aquatic ecosystems of the KNP. Thus, this study aimed to quantify OCP levels in wild crocodiles from the aquatic systems associated with the KNP. As part of a larger study, muscle tissue samples were collected from tails of 12 wild crocodiles. Results indicated that eight of the 19 OCPs analysed for were quantifiable. These included DDTs (2130-167968 ng/g lw), chlordanes (BD - 7583 ng/g lw) and cyclodeines (BD - 872 ng/g lw). Measured concentrations indicated spatial- and sex-related differences in accumulation patterns. DDT and its metabolites, paricularly p,p'-DDE accumulated to the highest concentrations of the OCP groups. Levels of the different groups of OCPs were the highest recorded in recent history from any crocodilian tissue. The different measured OCP residues were between 2.5 and 120 times higher than levels reported in literature, depending on the compound. These results are of ecotoxicological significance and have several management implications. In view of individuals being sampled from a conservation area it emphasizes the fact that pollutants know no boundaries and that premier conservation areas such as the world renowned KNP may be some of the most contaminated areas of the world.