Croc­o­dile risk warn­ing boards in iden­ti­fied areas a must, says Wildlife and Na­ture Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

While sym­pa­thiz­ing with the fam­ily and friends of the Bri­tish jour­nal­ist who was killed in a croc­o­dile at­tack close to Arugam Bay on Thurs­day, the Wildlife and Na­ture Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety (WNPS) has re­quested the govern­ment to put up risk warn­ing boards in areas in­hab­ited by croc­o­diles.

Un­der­scor­ing that re­mov­ing in­di­vid­ual croc­o­diles -- ei­ther to an­other lo­cale or to a zoo -- does not solve a per­ceived problem, as they re­turn or an­other croc­o­dile moves into the va­cated area as they are ter­ri­to­rial, a WNPS state­ment sent by its Pres­i­dent Ruk­shan Jayewar­dene says that it is im­por­tant to put croc­o­dile risk warn­ing boards in iden­ti­fied areas and main­tain them.

“Fenc­ing and nets are not prac­ti­cal in re­mote, ru­ral back­wa­ters. In­for­ma­tion on croc­o­dile be­hav­iour and hu­man be­hav­iour that poses per­sonal risk, should be made read­ily avail­able in areas with croc­o­diles. Hol­i­day mak­ers should pay heed as the cost of be­ing heed­less is tragic and ir­re­versible. As the say­ing goes an ounce of preven­tion is worth a pound of cure,” the WNPS says.

Point­ing out that croc­o­dile at­tacks are rare but not un­known and avoid­ing risky be­hav­iour is the key to avoid­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of at­tack in croc­o­dile habi­tats, the WNPS ex­plains that it is im­por­tant to re­spect lo­cal (area res­i­dents) knowl­edge about croc­o­diles and take their ad­vice. “Af­ter all they live with croc­o­diles as neigh­bours and go about their liveli­hoods.”

On Septem­ber 14, a young Bri­tish jour­nal­ist, Paul McClean, hol­i­day­ing in Sri Lanka lost his life due to a croc­o­dile at­tack near Arugam Bay, on the south­east coast, the WNPS states, adding that a young life full of po­ten­tial was trag­i­cally cut short. There are slightly dif­fer­ing ac­counts about this un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent, but enough can be sub­stan­ti­ated to prompt us to is­sue this state­ment.

The WNPS states: “We are notic­ing a gen­eral la­cuna in both knowl­edge and prac­tice that may have con­trib­uted to such an in­ci­dent. We would like to state the fol­low­ing in the in­ter­est of lo­cals and vis­i­tors to the coun­try so that the avoid­able can be avoided.

“Es­tu­ar­ine croc­o­diles, salt­wa­ter or Indo-Pa­cific croc­o­diles, are the largest liv­ing rep­tiles on earth. In­di­vid­u­als more than 3 me­tres in length and weigh­ing more than 1,000kg as adults are not rare. They grow through­out their long lives of per­haps 100 years. They are one of two species in the is­land and are found in suit­able coastal habi­tats. They are also apex preda­tors and hence a key­stone species in the aquatic habi­tats they oc­cupy. They are ter­ri­to­rial and that alone may some­times pro­voke an at­tack, rather than hunger.

“Salt wa­ter croc­o­diles are pro­tected un­der the Fauna and Flora Pro­tec­tion Or­di­nance of Sri Lanka. Larger in­di­vid­u­als switch from an es­sen­tially fish and crus­tacean diet to mam­malian prey. In this role they are clas­sic am­bush hun­ters and use op­por­tu­nity and stealth to their ad­van­tage. They do not de­lib­er­ately tar­get hu­mans but it is thought that hu­mans have been part of the prey base of large croc­o­diles from pre-his­toric times.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.