General

10-foot “croc” removed from Belama Street

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

Residents in the Belama Phase 1 area can breathe a sigh of relief after learning that a 10-foot crocodile, large enough to kill a child, was safely removed from a street in the area at the break of dawn on Tuesday.

It took the effort of three agencies (the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary – ACES, the Belize Animal Rescue – BAR, and the Forestry Department) along with concerned citizens of the area to gag the animal and tie its limbs and carry it to the back of a large trailer to be taken away.

ACES crocodile researcher, Chris Summers told the Reporter that the agencies had to stalk out the animal from the night before, already prepared with a large trap provided by the Forestry Department. The apparatus was not necessary, however, because Summers managed to get a rope around the beast and when the residents heard the commotion and went out to help, the rest was easy.

Summers said that from as early as 4:30 a.m., the team was ready. That is the approximate time residents say the croc crosses the street, and at 4:45, the group swung into action when the creature was spotted making its way across the street.

Since the trap was not used to snare the croc, personnel from the Forestry Department left it in the area with the intent to catch more crocs who residents say have been spotted in the area. One of the animals still lurking around has been estimated to be even larger than the 10-footer caught this time.

The American crocodile – a male – measures exactly 10 feet 3 inches in length. Its weight has been estimated to be at least 500 pounds. A croc that size, Summer says, could easily “do some damage if he wanted to.”

Since sightings of the creatures have been reported in the area, Summers said a number of residents have reported that their pets have gone missing. Stray animals have also disappeared.

The animal will remain at ACES’ emergency holding pen at its San Pedro property until the Forestry Department determines whether it will be reintroduced into the wild somewhere far from a residential location, or whether it will be kept in captivity. If the decision is made to keep him captive, ACES will build a large enclosure for him.

“Crocs that are kept in captivity because they can’t be in the wild anymore, either because they’re injured and can’t feed themselves like one we have, or because they’ve shown themselves to be a potential threat. The only other option is to put them down and we don’t put healthy animals down. We’d rather take care of them than do that,” Summer explained.

ACES receives funding to care for and material to build pens from the Bridgette Bardot Foundation. The crocs kept in captivity get a mixture of chicken and fish for a balanced diet. Later on, after their pens are built, the pens are stocked with fish which they can hunt.

Anyone who needs to report a sighting of a crocodile can do so by calling ACES at: 623 7920 or by posting a message on its Facebook page.

(Pics: Civilians and trained personnel safely remove large croc from residential area – Pics courtesy Gordon and Gillian Kirkwood)

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