A team of forest department officials and volunteers have found 19 adult crocodiles and 36 hatchlings on a 25-km stretch of the Krishna River in Sangli in India’s western Maharashtra state. The crocodile presence has already led to two human fatalities in as many months this year.
“The forest department began the survey last week with the help of NGOs and wildlife enthusiasts. A total staff of 28 from the forest department and representatives of 20 non-governmental organizations visited possible breeding sites in the morning and evening to record observations.
“The teams used four boats to survey the 10 villages of Amnapur, Ankalkhop, Bhilawadi, Chopadewadi, Sukhawadi, Kasabe Digraj, Mauje Digraj, Karnal, Haripur and Sangliwadi in Sangli, where crocodiles were spotted recently by the villagers. Each boat would have three forest officials and two enthusiasts, who would note the exact location of the crocodile spotting, the animal’s size, length and place of nesting.
“Following the survey, the forest officials have sought permission to shift the black crocodile that caused the death of a 13-year-old boy in Chopadewadi in April. The move would help prevent fatal attacks in future. A fisherman was attacked in another village. Deputy conservator of forest Samadhan Chavan told TOI, “We have submitted the survey report to the Kolhapur office and the principal chief conservator of forest in Mumbai. We have requested permission to capture the black crocodile and shift it to another water body, which does not have human habitat nearby. This crocodile is a bit aggressive.”
“Sangli district collector Shekhar Gaikwad said, “I am aware of the situation and we know the population of the crocodiles. I have also proposed an alternative to shift all adult crocodiles to a breeding centre, which will bring down the life threat to the people. If not all, at least some crocodiles can be shifted so that there will be less incidents of human and crocodile conflict.”
“He added that the artificial lake in Tasgaon taluka may be used for this purpose. The artificial lake is not commonly used and hence, it can be converted into crocodile breeding centre. The forest officials can submit a proposal regarding the same.”
“The collector said another option of erecting D shape compound with iron mesh in the river can be considered. The frequently used ghats and adjoining areas will be protected and the iron mesh will restrict the movement of the crocodiles.