More crocodiles in Bako River now?
by Lim How Pim, email@example.com. Posted on June 30, 2012, Saturday
KUCHING: The number of crocodiles in Bako River is believed to have doubled over the last 30 years.
In 1982, three crocodiles were found for every 10km of the river, but of late, the number had risen to six, said Oswald Braken Tisen, acting deputy general manager of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division) yesterday.
“However, we cannot state for certain that is the crocodile population because out of the six (for every 10km) some of them are hatchlings.
“Some of these hatchlings might be eaten by other crocodiles before becoming adults,” he told reporters after SFC chief executive officer and managing director Ali Yusop opened a seminar at a hotel here.
Scientists have discovered that only one in 1,000 hatching would survive, and that a crocodile can lay 30 to 50 eggs once a year, he said.
This relatively low survival rate could trigger worries or even concern for extinction among certain quarters, he said.
Oswald is in the dark about the population of this ferocious reptile in the state because SFC only monitors some major rivers.
Crocodiles are protected under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
However, Ali, who is also Controller of Wildlife, said they do issue permits to kill crocodiles when the situation warranted it.
He clarified that crocodiles fell under the “protected” rather than the “totally protected” category of the ordinance, and, hence, certain individuals had been licensed to take them out.
He, however, could not say off the cuff how many such permits had been issued to date.
Oswald chipped in by stressing that only authorised persons could eliminate crocodiles that were deemed life threatening.
Those who do not have such permits but killed crocodiles in self defence need to report such incidences to wildlife officers, he said.
“If you kill a crocodile in the act of protecting your own life, or the life of others, you must report to wildlife officers.”
Asked why crocodiles attack human beings, he said people ought to understand that crocodiles do not go hunting. They ambush!
“Crocodiles are born to bite, and that is their natural instinct. Most attacks happened when human beings are using the river or interact with their habitat.
“They attack human beings when mistaken identity or protection of territory happens. When something else comes in, they feel challenged, and hence the need to defend their territory.”
To prevent crocodile mishaps, he said dwellers living along rivers should be educated to avoid exposing themselves in the water.
“Last time, some of them even built fencing to minimise the risks.”