Mumbai: Adult crocodile strays in to stormwater drain near construction site, rescued

Mar 06, 2018, 13:42 IST | A Correspondent

Rescue workers spend most of Sunday trying to figure out how an adult crocodile strayed all the way to a stormwater drain near a construction site; the reptile was successfully rescued by 1 am and has since been released in the wild

The crocodile has been declared fit for release
The crocodile has been declared fit for release

A 4.5-foot crocodile found in a drain in Mulund left animal rescuers scratching their heads for the better part of Sunday, as they tried to figure out how the reptile had strayed so far away from its home. After a 7-hour rescue operation, they finally managed to get the croc out, and it has since been released back into the wild.

Officials from the Mumbai Range of the Thane Forest Department (Territorial) and volunteers from NGO RAWW spent the better part of the day trying to figure out where the croc might have come from — major habitats are the Tulsi, Vihar and Powai lakes. The crocodile was found at a stormwater drain near a construction site, which is adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), leading the rescuers to believe that the creature must have come from there.

The crocodile has been declared fit for release

Gator-aid
Late on Sunday afternoon, the RAWW helpline received a distress call a residential society in Mulund west, after locals spotted the crocodile. The volunteers and forest officials found the croc swimming in a 5-foot pool at the end of the drain. They looked for any pipelines through which the crocodile may have swam there, but they could not find any. Meanwhile, it was also crucial to prevent the animal from straying any further, as there was a construction labour camp nearby.

To prevent a man-animal conflict, the rescue workers blocked all exit routes. Pawan Sharma, honorary wildlife warden of Thane and RAWW president, said, "A 15-member team began the rescue operation, and after seven hours, the crocodile was safely captured. Our team surveyed the area and checked all possible exit points from where the reptile could enter human zones. We evaluated and secured all these points."

Around 6 pm, water pumps were brought in to lower the water level, and halogen lights were installed to improve visibility. "After two hours, the water level decreased and the team started putting nets in the pit. Around 8:45 pm, the crocodile was spotted hiding in a hollow space. We waited for the crocodile to enter in the nets," said Sharma.

The crocodile was released at an undisclosed location yesterday
The crocodile was released at an undisclosed location yesterday

Checked by croc doc
After three failed attempts, the teams changed the position of the nets and finally managed to capture the crocodile around 1 am. It was then allowed to stabilise in the custody of the Forest Department overnight.

Yesterday, the animal was taken for a medical examination by honorary wildlife veterinarian Dr Rina Dev, who identified it as a male marsh crocodile. "It was declared fit by Dr Dev. Its scutes (bony external plate or scales) were clipped for identification. The crocodile has been released back in its natural habitat, which shall remain undisclosed for the protection of the reptile," added Sharma.

Health report
Species: Marsh crocodile
Sex: Male
Length: 4.5 feet
Weight: 8.8 kg
Age: 5-6 years
Condition: Fit for release

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