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300kg crocodile strays into pond in Sunderbans

Saltwater crocodile, around 15ft in length, was first spotted in pond of village near Dhanchi forest

Debraj Mitra | Published 25.02.23, 07:06 AM
The crocodile after being taken out of water

The crocodile after being taken out of water

A crocodile, roughly the size of two-and-a-half adult human beings and weighing around 300kg, strayed into a pond in a village in the Sunderbans on Thursday evening.

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), around 15ft in length, was first spotted in the pond of a village near the Dhanchi forest in the Ramganga range around 5pm on Thursday.


The largest and heaviest living reptile in the world, the saltwater crocodile is said to be the top aquatic predator in the Sunderbans.

On Thursday, the crocodile is likely to have strayed into the pond during high tide. It was trapped as the tide turned low and could not return to the river, said a forest official. 

It took over seven hours and close to 30 forest guards and officers to isolate and trap the crocodile. 

The operation was completed around 1am. The crocodile, tied to a pole and its snout covered in a sack, was taken to the Dhanchi beat office, where it was examined by a vet. 

“It was found to be healthy and will be released into the wild at the confluence of the Matla and the Thakuran rivers near Kalas island,” said Milan Kanti Mandal, divisional forest officer of South 24-Parganas.

The Herculean task to rescue the reptile involved two teams.

The first, of 17 members, was led by Tanmoy Chatterjee, range officer of the Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project, known for captive breeding and rearing of saltwater crocodiles which are then released into the wild.

The second team, of 12 members, was led by Debabrata Pramanik, field officer of Dhanchi beat office.

A pump was used to drain out some water from the pond. A large net was then dragged from one side to corner the crocodile. As it came nearer to the bank, one group of men covered its jaw with a jute sack. This was done to prevent any attack by the reptile. 

Saltwater crocodiles are known to have the greatest bite force ever among animals. Their bite is nearly four times stronger than that of a tiger or a lion and, according to an international study in 2012, might rival that of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.

“At the time of covering the face, we have to be careful to not harm the snout. The jaw is covered but the snout is left open for breathing. It is an extremely delicate and dangerous task,” said Mandal. 

The tail, which the reptile flapped continuously, was then covered with another jute sack.

Face and tail trapped, it was now time to tie up the body. But the foresters needed a bamboo pole for support and then lifting and carrying the 300kg beast.

A big crowd cheered as the men carried the crocodile.The saltwater crocodile is found in eastern India, southeast Asia, and northern Australia. There have been instances of males growing up to 20 feet and weigh over 1,000 kg.

“In the Sunderbans, the average length is around 12ft,” Mandal said. The last census in 2021 found 400 saltwater crocodiles in the Sunderbans.

Last updated on 25.02.23, 12:40 PM

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