With fewer than 130 of them left in the wild, Chinese alligators may become the first crocodilian to become extinct in the wild, according to a study that will be published soon in the journal Biological Conservation. The alligators, native to lakes and wetlands in the lower Yangtze River Valley, have lost most of their habitat to fish ponds, rice paddies, and, increasingly, development. Not every single bit of hope is lost: A research center has 10,000 of the alligators in captivity, and some scientists hope to reintroduce them into the wild. But little habitat for the alligators remains and many in the burgeoning Chinese population don’t want to encounter the six-foot critters hanging out in ponds.

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