Thailand's crocodile farms

Thailand is home to some of the world’s biggest crocodile farms, where tourists can see the giant reptiles lounging in the hot sun, chomping on chicken, or swarming in emerald green pools.

Some 1.2 million crocodiles are kept on more than 1,000 farms in Thailand, according to figures from the Thai department of fisheries. Some are equipped with slaughterhouses and tanneries to produce luxury products.

Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm is one of Thailand’s biggest and has been operating for 35 years.

“We’re an all-in-one farm, creating jobs for the people, creating income for the country,” said Wichian Rueangnet, the owner of Sri Ayuthaya, which has an estimated 150,000 crocodiles.

Sri Ayuthaya is registered with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), allowing it to legally export products made from the critically endangered Siamese freshwater crocodile, including to top buyer China.

“We do everything from raising crocodiles to slaughtering, tanning and exporting crocodile products,” Wichian said.

Crocodile leather products include Birkin-style handbags, which sell for up to 80,000 baht ($2,356) each and crocodile leather suits, which fetch around 200,000 baht ($5,885), Wichian said.

Crocodile meat is sold for as much as 300 baht per kg (2.2 lb). The bile and blood of the reptile, made into pills because they are believed to have health benefits, are worth 40,000 baht and 500 baht per kg, respectively.

The industry has been facing a setback as exports of Thai crocodile leather products fell more than 60 percent in 2016 to 13 million baht from 34 million baht in 2015, commerce ministry figures show. (Reuters)

Photography by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

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Newly-hatched crocodiles

Newly-hatched crocodiles are seen at Sriracha Crocodile Farm in Chonburi province, Thailand, June 20, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Dyed crocodile skins hang at a tannery

Dyed crocodile skins hang at a crocodile leather tannery in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, May 24, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Crocodiles at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm

Crocodiles are seen at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A crocodile eats chicken

A crocodile eats a chicken head at Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi province, Thailand, May 16, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Workers feed crocodiles

Workers feed crocodiles at Sri Ayuthaya crocodile farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Crocodiles at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm

Crocodiles are seen at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A worker collects eggs

A worker collects crocodile eggs at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A worker holds young crocodiles

A worker holds young crocodiles at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Workers catch young crocodiles

Workers catch young crocodiles and put them into sacks at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A worker removes skins

A worker removes crocodile skins at a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Workers prepare dyed skins

Workers prepare dyed crocodile skins at Sriracha Crocodile Farm in Chonburi province, Thailand, June 20, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Performance at Sriracha Tiger zoo

A zoo performer reacts as he puts his head between the jaws of a crocodile during a performance for tourists at Sriracha Tiger Zoo, in Chonburi province, Thailand, May 16, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Workers process meat

Workers process crocodile meat at a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Dyed crocodile skin

Dyed crocodile skin is seen at a tannery in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, May 24, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A worker polishes a wallet

A worker polishes a wallet made from crocodile skin at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Tourists touch a dyed skin

Chinese tourists touch a dyed crocodile skin at Sriracha Crocodile Farm in Chonburi province, Thailand, June 20, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Crocodiles at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm

Crocodiles are seen at Sri Ayuthaya Crocodile Farm in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

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