Bangladesh: A marsh crocodile, a species declared extinct in the country, captured by villagers

ANIMAL The swamp crocodile was last recorded in the wild in Bangladesh half a century ago

A crocodile. (photo illustration) — BONY/SIPA

A wild marsh crocodile, an extinct species in Bangladesh, was captured on a bank of the Ganges river in a village in the central district of Faridpur. The animal is a male 2.3 meters long and 10-12 years old. Authorities tried to get him out of the water in vain until he was captured by villagers, regional forest manager Nirmal Kumar Paul said Tuesday.

“We discovered that he had actually entered the Padma River canal [a tributary of the Ganges] in search of fish that seemed to be in abundance there,” the official said. “We tried to catch him with nets but he escaped. Then, on Monday, the villagers grabbed him as he moved to the shore.”

The crocodile attracts the crowd

The presence of the crocodile in the canal, where it could easily be seen since the end of July, attracted some 15,000 people to the village, despite warnings from the authorities recalling by loudspeaker the confinement in force against the coronavirus.

The crocodile has since been transferred to a wildlife rescue center near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest (140,000 hectares). He will then be transferred to a zoological park, officials said.

On the list of “regional extinct” species

The animal may have reached Bangladesh from India through the Ganges River, a 2,500-kilometre-long river. Crocodylus palustris, listed as an “extinct regional” species in Bangladesh by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), was last recorded in the wild in the country half a century ago. However, several have reportedly been observed since then.

Bangladesh keeps a few specimens in captivity whose origin is unknown, according to the IUCN. It is found in India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Its global population is estimated between 5,400 and 7,100 individuals, according to researchers.

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