Unlike on TV, it can take days to catch a croc, says Sabah Wildlife Dept

KOTA KINABALU: It takes hours and even days to catch a crocodile in the wild, not like what is seen on television shows, says the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said contrary to what some may think, it is not easy to just find a crocodile, trap it and catch it.

“Our rangers have to first find out the approximate size of the reptile that they need to catch (if there are attacks or disturbances), and then map out the possible areas where the reptile would be,” he said when contacted on Wednesday (Dec 7).

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Then, they will have to start planning on where to start searching for it, check for nests and other details, he added.

In a recent fatal attack in Lahad Datu district, a toddler was devoured by a crocodile while his father sustained multiple injuries.

Tuuga said sometimes, a crocodile might enter traps, but it could be the wrong one.

“Rangers have to walk for hours along the shore or (suspected locations), sit and wait, observe and then take action if they notice the presence of a crocodile,” he said.

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“It’s not as easy as what you see on screen. Crocodiles are smart too and won’t just wait to be caught,” he said.

Tuuga said normally, reptiles, like other wildlife species, choose to avoid human contact.

“So of course, we don’t just go to a swampy area, start poking around and expect the reptile to emerge,” he added.

Asked if the rangers were specially trained in crocodile hunting, he said there was no specific training but they learnt the skills from seniors who have been doing this for years.

As for the recent attack, Tuuga said the crocodile has yet to be caught. The boy’s body had not been recovered either, he added.

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He said a crocodile was shot dead following a search by rangers, but no human remains were found in its stomach.

“Our efforts to trace the correct one are ongoing,” he said.

In Tawau, a video showing a crocodile at the Tawau jetty has been circulating since Wednesday morning.

Tuuga urged people in the area, especially fishermen and coastal villagers, to be on the alert.

He said a team will be sent in to lure the reptile away from the area, or capture it if necessary.