Vets still bam­boo­zled about croc’s species

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN

A team of vet­eri­nar­i­ans yes­ter­day col­lected DNA sam­ples from a male croc­o­dile, caught swim­ming close to a beach in Phuket last week, to de­ter­mine whether the rep­tile is a salt­wa­ter or fresh­wa­ter croc­o­dile.

Pin­sak Suraswadi, deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Depart­ment of Na­tional Parks, Wildlife and Plant Con­ser­va­tion (DNP), said re­sults of the lab tests on blood and DNA sam­ples taken from the croc­o­dile named “Lae Phang” will be known in about one to three weeks.

The DNA sam­ple col­lec­tion was jointly car­ried out by vets and of­fi­cials from the DNP, the Depart­ment of Fish­eries (DOF), Mahi­dol Univer­sity’s croc­o­dile re­search cen­tre and Kaset­sart Univer­sity’s Fac­ulty of Fish­eries.

They also mea­sured its length and other phys­i­cal de­tails.

Su­rat Thani-based croc­o­dile ex­perts were on hand to help pin down the croc dur­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion to pre­vent in­juries to the rep­tile.

Mr Pin­sak said the lab test will prove what species the croc­o­dile be­longs to.

Mean­while, Thon Tham­rong-nawa­sawat, as­so­ci­ate dean of the KU’s Fish­eries Fac­ulty, said if the an­i­mal was a salt­wa­ter croc­o­dile, it must be re­leased back into the wild.

How­ever, if it was a cross­breed, it should be placed in cap­tiv­ity, he said.

Of­fi­cials will dis­cuss where in Phuket the croc­o­dile will be re­leased or placed, de­pend­ing on the out­come of the DNA test.

The DOF is to re­lo­cate the croc­o­dile to a larger pond pend­ing the test re­sults, ac­cord­ing to Mr Thon.

The croc­o­dile was cap­tured last Thurs­day and taken to the Phuket Coastal Fish­eries Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre in Tha­lang district as it posed a po­ten­tial threat to tourists.

As of yes­ter­day, more than 13,000 ne­ti­zens had signed an on­line pe­ti­tion on the change.org web­site, call­ing for the rep­tile to be re­leased back into the wild as it looked “de­pressed” and may have lost its ap­petite af­ter be­ing con­fined to a pond at the cen­tre.

Mr Thon sug­gested a de­tailed sur­vey be launched to see if any salt­wa­ter crocs, be­lieved to be ex­tinct in Thai­land for many years, were still liv­ing in the wild.

If Lae Phang is a wild salt­wa­ter croc­o­dile, he said it would pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion for the study.

TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

A man com­plains to the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Po­lice Di­vi­sion af­ter buy­ing lodg­ing vouch­ers but be­ing de­nied a stay at a Hua Hin re­sort.

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