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Friday, February 1, 2019

Crocodile escapade !!

People throng to Zoo to see and enjoy animals – the one at Vandalur is sprawling and attracts huge crowds – far cry from those days when  it was housed in Lily Pond complex [Moore Market] nearer Central Station. In 1979, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside 1,265 acres in the Vandalur Reserve Forest on the outskirts of the city to build the current zoo  and the zoo in its new premises was officially opened to public  in 1985  by the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu MG Ramachandran.

Recently read this news item that animals  in Vandalur zoo need no longer be tranquillized before X-ray as it has procured a stateof-the-art mobile X-ray device. Zoo director told the TOI that under the existing system, when a bird or animal is sick it had to be tranquillized and transported to the zoo veterinary hospital to carry out an X-ray. As far as pregnant wildlife is concerned, it would be more difficult .Due to this, the zoo had lost a couple of endangered wildlife. The new device can be transported to the enclosures and the animals need not be tranquillized. Similarly, the images can be seen live in the monitor attached to the equipment. Based on this the veterinarians can plan the treatment, the Director said.

May not be best attraction ~ Crocodiles are large reptiles found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. They are members of the order Crocodilia, which also includes caimans, gharials and alligators.  There are 13 species of crocodiles, so there are many different sizes of crocodile. The smallest crocodile is the dwarf crocodile. It grows to about 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) in length and weighs 13 to 15 pounds (6 to 7 kilograms). The largest crocodile is the saltwater crocodile. The largest one ever found was 20.24 feet (6.17 m) long. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg). 

The conservation scheme to protect Australia’s saltwater crocodiles has been so successful that the animals are migrating hundreds of miles across international waters to kill locals on the impoverished island of Timor.  The crocodiles are embarking on a two-week sea journey to hunt and eat the locals in East Timor, the former Portuguese colony 370 miles north of the Australian mainland, according to a new study.   It is feared this is the first time an animal preservation programme, that has boosted numbers to 250,000 since wild crocodiles were first legally protected in Australia in the 1970s, has led to multiple attacks on humans in another country.

Following a nearly decade-long hunt, a massive saltwater crocodile has been captured in northern Australia, according to wildlife authorities. Rangers caught the crocodile Monday after setting a trap on a private property near Katherine, a town in Northern Territory, Australia.   The evasive crocodile is said to be one of the largest trapped in the region, which is not far from the Nitmiluk and Kakadu national parks. It was estimated to be about 60 years old, but it is the reptile’s size that is shocking — measuring more than 15 feet long (the average length of a car) and weighing more than 1,300 pounds (which is more than a grand piano), according to the Katherine Times.

Animal escapades from enclosures are nothing new ! ~ but can be quite scary !! - For the last few days, residents of Nedunkundram near Vandalur have been waking up to the sight of crocodiles basking in the sun on a rock in their lake. They’ve known for months that muggers have made the lake home, but it is only now that these crocodiles, some of them up to six feet long, have started showing themselves for any length of time. Residents say there could be half a dozen of them in the lake. How did they land in the lake? There are many theories including that crows could have picked up little ones from the zoo nearby as prey, only for them to fall to safety in the lake. Another theory is that many tiny muggers could have been washed into the lake during cyclone Vardah in 2016, which saw Vandalur flooded.

A resident of Nedunkundram village  said the crocs had been living in the lake for nearly a year. People who bathe or catch fish in the river were aware of their presence. “However, there was no conflict between the people and the muggers. None of the crocs has attacked people so far,” he said. Whenever people get into the lake to bathe or youths jump in with their nets to catch fish, the muggers move away from the area where the humans are. The youth continue to ignore warnings that the crocs are a real danger, he said. Forest range officer here  said several muggers had been rescued from the lake in the last five years. At present, there were at least half a dozen in the lake, one of them nearly six feet in length, he added. The villagers are waiting for the wildlife warden to send someone to catch the muggers and move them elsewhere.

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology (MCBT) on ECR near Mahabalipuram  is a reptile zoo and herpetology research station.  The  leading institution for herpeto faunal conservation, research and education,  is the first crocodile breeding centre in Asia.  It does not supply skin to any fashion manufacturer but was  established with the aim of saving three Indian endangered species of crocodile—the marsh or mugger crocodile, the saltwater crocodile, and the gharial, which at the time of founding of the trust were all nearing extinction. The photo at the start was taken at Madras Croc bank ..

A couple of years ago, had posted of another incident of crocodile encounter in Chennai .. ..  It was just another day for Venkatesan. He had taken his four cows for grazing near a lake in Nerkundram when suddenly the animals began running helter-skelter. He went closer and saw a crocodilein a corner of the partially dry lake in Sadanandapuram. “It was a male, about six feet in length. Four of us reached the lake around10.30am after a villager alerted us. We had a tough time handling it and tying its mouth,” said  a forest official.  Experts at the Madras Crocodile Bank identified it as a mugger or marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris).

Environmentalists say it is pleasant to spot a crocodile so close to the city. “Crocodiles live near marshlands and river banks. It is good to know there is still space for these animals in thecity,” said  an environmentalist. Obviously residents and common public would have a different view ~ for it poses danger and threat and would not be pleasant to have one living nearby……… the mugger can grow up to five metres in length, has the broadest snout of any member of its genus.  Crocodiles eat animals, can attack and harm humans…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Dec 2018.

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