Although wild crocodiles are considered endangered, the prospects for growth in the crocodile farming business really looks good in Siem Reap, Cambodia - up to 1,350 per cent, Nao Thuok, who is the deputy director of the fisheries department -also popularly known as the Crocodile Man - promotes raising crocodiles as a sideline for Cambodian farmers. He says that the farming activity could really be dangerous until one learns about the different moods of the reptiles. More than 400 farms have sprung up across Cam bodia, about half of them in the northwestern province of Siem Reap.

Thuok, who has been breeding crocodiles for 18 years, says that this year, Cambodia is likely to sign the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species which allows the regulated export of commercially raised crocodile skins. He estimates that foreign sales could bring in us $20 million. The Siem Reap state farm has already received or4rs from European and Japanese buyers lookirf)(-for a steady supply of skins from which handbags, belts, shoes and other items are fashioned.

Sam Rithya, a Siem Reap farmtT, says he bought 100 baby crocodiles f for us $34 a piece in 1994 and was recently offered us $30,000 for his operation. Rithya says that the animals require little space or care, have a low mortality rate and can be fed with cheap fish from TonlAap, ,Cambodia's great lake.