Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

Works to preserve reptiles and amphibians, as well as their natural environments, by means of educational initiatives, scientific investigation, and controlled breeding programs

  • Bronze Certified 2023
  • FCRA
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  • Headquarters

    Chennai, Tamil Nadu

  • Since


The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology, affectionately known as the Croc Bank, was conceived by Romulus Whitaker, Zai Whitaker, an Read mored a group of dedicated conservationists in 1976. Their mission was to rescue India's declining crocodilian populations. After nearly five decades of pioneering research and grassroots education, the Croc Bank stands as a global leader in frontline conservation and the preservation of natural landscapes. Today, the Croc Bank comprises a substantial reptile park located near Chennai, Southern India, and multiple field projects across the subcontinent. The park attracts nearly half a million visitors annually, making it a prominent tourist destination along Chennai's renowned East Coast Road. In the mid-20th century, hunting crocodilians was a profitable venture in tropical regions. By the 1970s, coupled with river damming and pollution, India's crocodile populations teetered on the brink of extinction. Recognizing this crisis, the Indian government extended protection to all three Indian crocodilian species through the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. In response to the urgent need of that era, The Madras Crocodile Bank concentrated on a specific objective: safeguarding breeding populations of the three Indian crocodilian species—the mugger (Crocodylus palustris), the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), and the exceedingly rare gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). Initially, the Croc Bank was designed as a genetic repository for crocodiles, preserving them until they could be reintroduced into their native habitats. This endeavour achieved early success, but the release into the wild ceased due to diminishing wilderness areas and a lack of suitable habitat.


  • Educational Field Trips at the Croc Bank

    Field trips to the Croc Bank can be transformed into captivating educational experiences by incorporating specialized programs, available for both full-day and half-day workshops. The dynamic and inquiry-based curriculum capitalizes on the presence of fascinating reptiles and the naturalistic environment of the Croc Bank, ensuring that students are engaged in a truly unique, exciting, and closely supervised learning adventure.
    Designed to cater to students from schools, universities, and colleges, these programs are customized to align with specific areas of interest and fields of study. Each program seamlessly blends theoretical knowledge with hands-on practical components, providing a comprehensive learning experience.

  • Conservation at the Croc Bank

    Since 1989, the Croc Bank has been dedicated to breeding the Gharial. Among its notable achievements is the successful breeding of the Indian painted roof turtle, Batagur kachuga, for the first time in captivity in 2004. This exquisite and rare species enjoys protection under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and is categorized as Action Plan Rating I by the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Its habitat in India is confined to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam, but it faces severe threats from habitat destruction, poaching, and net-drowning, which have significantly diminished its populations.
    Another Batagur turtle, the Batagur baska from West Bengal, has faced even graver challenges and is on the verge of extinction in the wild. A few individuals are in captivity, including two females at the Croc Bank and a male acquired from Zoo Vienna in 2014. After a two-year wait, successful breeding was achieved in 2016 by introducing

  • Veterinary work

    The Croc Bank boasts a cutting-edge veterinary care division with an on-site veterinarian. The veterinary team collaborates closely with the curatorial staff to guarantee the well-being of all the animals, ensuring they thrive in optimal conditions.
    The organisation conducts routine pathological and parasitological examinations on all the animals, following a consistent screening and treatment protocol. Individual animals are equipped with Pit Tags, providing them with unique identification numbers and helping maintain detailed medical records.
    As part of the commitment to capacity building, the organisation regularly conducts reptile-centric veterinary training programs at the Croc Bank. These training sessions are designed to equip zoos and conservation projects across India with essential skills and knowledge in reptile healthcare.

  • Human-crocodile conflict

    Human-crocodile conflicts pose significant challenges across India, especially in areas bordering protected regions, where numerous people and livestock fall victim to crocodile attacks annually. The organisation intends to collaborate with the Indian Government and relevant authorities in finding sustainable solutions to this emotionally charged issue of human-wildlife conflict.
    In recent years, the Croc Bank has been deeply involved in comprehensive applied research focused on the challenges posed by mugger and saltwater crocodiles in densely populated regions. A team of field biologists is currently conducting research in various states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, and the Andaman Islands, to better understand and address this complex issue.

  • Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Western Ghats (ARRS)

    In 2005, Rom Whitaker, the founder of the Croc Bank, realized his dream by establishing a research hub in the heart of King Cobra territory. This region, with its annual rainfall of 11,000 mm, is a remarkable biodiversity hotspot, home to a diverse range of wildlife, from the majestic tiger to the lesser-known uropeltids. Today, it stands as a fully-equipped research facility under the guidance of a field director who hails from this pristine Western Ghats forest. Among the current research initiatives, a significant focus is placed on the second phase of radio-tracking King Cobras, aimed at shedding light on their behaviours, habitats, and conservation requirements.

  • Gharial Ecology Project, Chambal (GEP)

    The precarious decline in Gharial numbers during the 1970s served as a catalyst for the establishment of the Croc Bank. Breeding pairs were sourced from various zoos, both by the Croc Bank and other institutions, and government legislation was enacted to protect the gharial species and its diminishing habitat. However, just as prospects were beginning to improve for this unique crocodilian, nearly a quarter of the wild population perished in 2007, likely due to secondary chemical poisoning. In response, the Croc Bank took a leading role in forming the Gharial Conservation Alliance, now known as the Gharial Ecology Project (GEP), a collective of crocodile experts dedicated to the conservation of gharials. During this time, Dr. Jeffery Lang, a world-renowned crocodile biologist who had been associated with the Croc Bank since the 1980s, developed a keen interest in gharial biology and initiated an intensive study that continues to this day.

  • Irula Snake Catchers' Industrial Cooperative Society (ISCICS)

    While researching snakebite incidents in India, Rom Whitaker and his colleagues uncovered a tragic truth: thousands of lives were lost due to the inadequate production and distribution of antivenom serum. Recognizing the potential solution, they rallied the Irula snake catchers in the Chinglepet region to establish a Snake-Catchers' Cooperative. Operating under licenses issued by the Wildlife Department, these cooperatives supply snakes, extract venom, and freeze-dry it for sale to antivenom-producing laboratories like the Haffkine Institute. Importantly, the snakes are released back into their natural habitat after three extractions, ensuring their conservation. This pioneering project set the stage for sustainable resource utilization and garnered funding and awards for its expansion and development.

  • Irula Tribe Women's Welfare Society (ITWWS)

    In 1986, the initiative was taken to establish a sister project exclusively focused on the welfare of Irula women and girls, with active community involvement and leadership at its core. The primary objectives included the documentation and promotion of herbal and medicinal knowledge, livelihood development, afforestation initiatives including forest nurseries, and the overall social and economic empowerment of Irula women. Notable achievements of ITWWS include:
    1. Establishment of a 12-acre forested campus: This remarkable achievement was made possible through funding from organizations like Womankind Worldwide, Oxfam, Action Aid, and others.
    2. Empowerment of Irula women leaders: ITWWS has successfully nurtured and empowered Irula women through awareness workshops and comprehensive training programs.
    3. Paving the way for Irula college students: ITWWS has played a pivotal role in enabling the first generation of Irula college students, comprising 22 individuals.

  • Andaman & Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET)

    This diverse mosaic of ecosystems, comprising coral reefs, mangroves, rainforests, and pristine beaches, serves as a habitat for flagship species such as the leatherback turtle, king cobra, and several endemic creatures like the Andaman krait. After conducting herpetological surveys and research in various parts of the archipelago, the Croc Bank established ANET in 1989, spanning five acres of land in Wandoor on the southern tip of South Andaman Island. In addition to its ongoing research and conservation endeavours, ANET operates a well-structured environmental education program catering to both local and mainland visitors and groups. In 2019, the Croc Bank transferred ANET's management to the esteemed conservation NGO, Dakshin Foundation, which had been its partner in the Islands for the past decade.

Leadership Team

  • Romulus Whitaker


  • Zai Whitaker

    Managing Trustee

  • Nikhil Whitaker


  • Allwin Jesudasan

    Joint Director

  • Venetia Sharanya

    Communications Officer


  • Internal, External Assessors



  • Ethics and Transparency Policies


  • Formal CEO Oversight & Compensation Policy


Political & Religious Declarations

  • On Affiliation if any


  • On Deployment Bias if any


Registration Details

  • PAN Card


  • Registration ID

    1028 OF 76

  • VO ID / Darpan ID


  • FCRA


  • CSR Registration Number

    Not Available


  • Headquarters

    Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology 4,Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, S. India, Chennai, 603104

  • Offices in Cities

Other Details

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Financial Details

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  • 2019-20

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  • 2020-21

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  • 2021-22

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