Sunday 31 March 2019

Gujarat man wakes to find Crocodile under his bed.

A farmer in Anand District, Gujarat, had a nasty surprise this week when he woke to find a two-and-a-half metre Mugger Crocodile, Crocodylus palustris, lurking under his bed. Babubhai Parmar, 30, discovered the animal in his home in Malataj Village, at about 1.30 am local time on Monday 25 March 2018, when he was woken by barking Dogs. Usually villagers in the area would have felt confident to remove the Crocodile himself, but realising it was likely to be a gravid female (Mugger Crocodiles typically begin to lay their eggs in April in India, and start to look for suitable nesting sites some weeks before this), they called for help and the animal was eventually removed by Forest Department officials.

 A Mugger Crocodile, Crocodylus palustris, beneath a bed in Malataj Village, Gujarat, this week. Times of India.

Mugger Crocodiles were formerly found across South Asia from Iran to Myanmar and Nepal to Sri Lanka, but they are thought to be extinct in Myanmar, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, and is considered to be Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of  Threatened Species. Muggers are smaller that Saltwater and Nile Crocodiles, with males reaching about 3.5 m and females about 2.5 m, and are generally less considered less dangerous, as their preferred prey is animals smaller than Humans. However, as with other Crocodylians, the females can be highly aggressive during the nesting season (April to June), and people are occasionally killed by these animals.

The village of Malataj lies on a lake of the same name which is home to a population of about 140 Muggers, with the villagers and the Crocodiles typically co-existing peacefully, with some villagers even tolerating Crocodiles nesting in their gardens. Despite this local tolerance, conservationists in the area have warned that the Crocodiles are currently at risk due to a number of Human activities, from increasingly busy roads to increasing use of pesticides. 

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