Archive for the ‘crocodiles’ Category

Thai Days: Crocodiles escape (again and as usual)

October 4, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog posted a report on the greatest crocodilian escape in human history. That was last year when the floods were raging and flooding and doing that sort of thing.

Strangely enough, although everybody knew it was going to happen again, preparations for incoming floods this year were largely neglected and while this goes for pretty much everything (roads, houses, etc.) the issue of not really learning from the past (last year) is exemplified by a current appeal to the general public to catch crocodiles that have escaped from a crocodile farm swamped by monsoon rains triggering a flash flood. The latest escapees are tiddlers – only 70 cm long. And if you get your hands on one you will receive an (unspecified) reward.

Bounty hunters beware! The 70 centimetre editions are going to be a real bitch to catch but Pramot Chanthamit, chief of Tambon Nong Lalok administration has just announced that there may be some larger versions out and about. Nothing to do with floods in this particular instance. A crocodile farm worker simply forgot to close the gate to the crocodile farm’s ponds.

Brigitte’s Pick: Giant croc – Just How big is Big?

May 12, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has to admit that this fellow is big!

22-FOOT, 2500 POUNDS!

Bad to the Bone: Elvis savages lawnmower

December 29, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s blog is impressed by the sheer villainy of Elvis, allegedly the world’s largest saltwater crocodile. He hails from Darwin where he made a name for himself by repeatedly attacking boats’ outboard motors. He was trapped and relocated to a crocodile farm where he ate his first “wife”, then his second. Elvis was relocated to the Australian Reptile Park north of Sydney in 2008 and to avoid a three strikes thing was placed in solitary. Yesterday Elvis decided to eat Billy Collet who was trimming the lawn surrounding his pool. Billy kept his wits about him and fended Elvis off with a lawnmower. Elvis seized the machine in a classic death roll, losing two teeth in the process. He guarded his victim all morning but was eventually lured away from it by Billy who was now armed with kangaroo steak. While Elvis was occupied with marsupial meat, the reptile park’s operations manager, Tim Faulkner, dived fully clothed into the pool to retrieve the dislodged teeth (7 cm) and the lawnmower.

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – Aussies have guts. And I’m happy to say that in this case, Tim and Billy still have them in the right place! Good on yer, mates!

Thai Days: Croc panic and rat off Saigon menus

November 4, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s blog offers sympathy to Vietnamese rat gourmets. Heavy flooding in Laos and Cambodia has resulted in massive disruption to the restaurant rat trade. Vietnamese (some of them) regard rats as a delicacy and annual imports of rats from neighbouring countries run to 17 tons in normal conditions. Nothing normal about conditions here at the moment.

Vietnamese are also very keen on dogs. There’s a shortage of them, too. Dog smugglers have been busted recently in large numbers. But that’s another story.

Croc panic currently comes in two forms. There’s the not unsurpising fear of being attacked by one of perhaps thousands of escapees from inundated crocodile farms (see earlier Hugh Paxton blog post the Great Escape for more details of the biggest croc break out in human history). The second form of panic is afflicting designer hand bag and cowboy boot manufacturers, traditional Chinese medicine vendors and wallet makers.

Crocs, particularly the prized saltwater crocodile, are worth a lot of money. Hand bags (which need four crocodiles per bag because only a few sections of hide are useable) can fetch up to $40,000 (USD) in Europe, their blood is valued by Chinese medicine freaks (like everything else these guys seem to buy and sell there’s an implausible virility angle), and Thailand, which is the world’s largest crocodile farming producer, also sells skulls for souvenirs and the meat in various forms – tail steaks (which don’t taste like chicken), mince (which doesn’t taste like mince), drinking snacks (for people who are too drunk to care what they are eating) etc.

With many crocs now on the lam, and transportation/logistics nightmares rising as fast as the floodwaters, farms are failing to fill quotas, and international fashion brands are fretting.

A lot of the liberated crocs, by contrast, are smiling.

Still dry in my neighbourhood. Still very wet in many other places.

Cheers! Stay safe!

Hugh

Thai Days: crocs around the block

September 16, 2011

The Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm has joined the increasingly large club of flooding victims as Thailand’s monsoon continues. A pond wall partially collapsed and it seems likely that nearly 3,000 captive saltwater crocodiles took the opportunity to do a runner (or more accurately a swimmer). The farm is offering a 5,000 baht reward for information leading to a recapture and 29 crocodiles have been caught and returned to captivity. The thing about salties is that they are capable of traveling great distances (one was observed, covered in barnacles, 200 lms off the Queensland coast in Australia) and are instinctively adept in disappearing and concealment. Adding impetus to the great escapees are swollen sediment heavy rivers with very poor visibility. Hugh Paxton’s blog reckons a lot of the escaped crocs are unlikely to spend much time as handbags or vulgar shoes. Personally I wish them well.

Giant Animals: 6.4 meter, 1075 kg saltwater crocodile live captured in the Philippines.

September 7, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s Blog regularly features unusual animals and the bigger the better. Some images are a test of readership credulity – the giant shark attacking the helicopter in Real or Fake, for example. Others like the 65 foot long python killed accidentally by a Chinese bulldozer crew clearing a patch of forest look more real than fake and are perplexing. In the Chinese python case I can’t see the motive for fraud, but if the image is true then the snake is twice the length of anything scientifically recorded.

Anyway, have a look if you’ve not seen the Chinese python and let me know your thoughts. A yeti was shot for the pot by border guards in Tibet but Hugh Paxton’s blog was not provided with photos. I didn’t post the incident. The guards ate whatever it was. This is always a frustration when it comes to human behaviour when the wondeful is encountered and then is either chucked over the side of the fishing ship (a Japanese fisher caught an intact giant squid but the skipper heaved it back because it would competely fill his target catch fish storage facilities). Or people eat it. The snake was eaten.

Today’s super creature is definitely the real thing, and hey! Nobody killed it, threw it away, or ate it! 

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living crocodilians and with the exception of Nile crocodiles kill more people than any other croc species. I think India mugger crocodiles come third when it comes to “stay out of the water” advisories.

After three people disappeared in the Bunawan area, Agusan del Sur, southern Philippines (830 kms south of Manila) a three week hunt for the culprit yielded results on the weekend. The crocodile was live captured by a team led by Wildlife official, Ronnie Sumiller, who has been huniting “nuisance crocodiles”  for 20 years.

Ronnie’s work isn’t over. The capture involved catching the thing (obviously) then hauling it out of the lagoon. This involved 100 villagers, lots of rope,  and one of the most bizarre tug of war competitions in history. A crane was then employed to lift the crocodile on to a flat bed truck. I’m very happy to say that the crocodile will be housed in an ecotorism facility and pampered by staff.  Check YouTube for rather wobbly footage. Start with entering Philippines in search, add crocodile and there ! 

But yes, Ronnie’s work isn’t over. This incident was a case of wrongful arrest. Stomach pumping revealed that this guy hadn’t eaten anybody. There’s another one out there and it’s bigger. Go for it Ronnie! But  “How fast can you swim?”

BLOG ED NOTE: This rather lame  sensationalist ending is a plagiarised tickler for Rogue, a really great crocodile movie set in a superb Australian river system. The movie’s well worth a watch. The acting is so low key and realistic that one feels almost bored by the people sharing the boat ride with you. Until there is a thump as the boat enters a forbidden Aboriginal holy site and it becomes sink or swim time.

Here’s a video of a giant saltie

Crocs and the Kavango

February 6, 2010

TRAVEL ADVISORY:

Two children have just been taken by crocs in the Kavango (Okavango) river in Northern Namibia.

It’s a wonderful river; look at it, admire its beauty, but don’t reach for your swimming costume!

The crocs are very big, and, this is the thing, you don’t see them.

They, however, keep a close eye on you.

This Blog likes people (most of them) and it also likes crocs.

Let’s avoid “Human Wildlife Conflict”.

Enjoy the river. Don’t let the river enjoy you!

Crocodiles: Travel Advisory

December 8, 2009

Namibia doesn’t have, what could be described, as a super-abundance of rivers.

But the ones it does have? My advice – don’t swim in them. The Orange River, which demarcates the border with South Africa is fine, but the northern ones? Nope!

A German tourist, taking a dip in the Kunene River (which demarcates the border with Angola) has just been killed by a crocodile, bringing this year’s body count in the Ruacana area of the Kunene to five.

Namibia’s crocodile population is increasing and the older a crocodile gets the bigger it gets. If you want to see how big they can get, stop off at the Crocodile Farm in Otjiwarongo. These guys can live to 100 years old, measure up to twenty feet and a really big one weighs in at over a ton.

They are patient ambush predators. Typical tactic is to wait and watch the river banks. If there is activity they won’t always  suddenly  launch an offensive. They may wait hours or days watching the same spot. And here’s the thing – you won’t see them.

A few years ago I spent a week helping Alison Leslie set nooses and cow hide/bone bait to live trap Nile crocs in St Lucia, a beautiful wetland area in Kwazulu Natal, RSA. Alison, after succesfully noosing a croc, then sedated it, stuck a tin can in it’s mouth to prop the jaws open, and employed a stomach pump to extract the remains of the croc’s last meal for analysis.

Her scientific goal was to see what crocodiles eat.  Impacts on wetlands. Etc.

Typical PhD stuff!

“So what do crodiles eat?” I asked her as she bent over her microscope analyzing the latest ghastly samples.

“Anything they can.”

That was her non scientific answer.

But it appeared to be true. After trawling through the sludgy stomach contents she’d uncovered fish hooks, a bit of a hippo, fish, birds, something that might once have been a poacher (nice one!)…

The croc was released to continue its good work. It’s just doing what it does.

Alison’s  words of wisdom to the visitor in a wetland or river area – “It’s not the crocodile you can see that will kill you. It’s the one that you can’t see.”

So chaps, stick to the swimming pools if you are up North.


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