Mekong Delta: Watch out for crocodiles!

August 23, 2009

Unreliable cages mean that crocodile escape to the rivers and canals during transportation and attack people. More and more such reports from Mekong Delta provinces frighten local residents.

A crocodile farm in Can Tho City.

 

A Kien Giang Provincial Forest Protection Bureau official says that local rangers have killed a crocodile 1.6m long, weighing 20kg, after it escaped from a crocodile farm in Ha Tien Town. Locals complain there is still another loose crocodile in the area.

 

Mrs. Nguyen Hong Le of Can Tho was attacked by a crocodile when she held her 1-year old baby at a canal bank near her home on March 22nd. Luckily, the crocodile didn’t snap up the woman. She ran and called for help. It took local people half an hour to catch the crocodile, which had escaped from its cage at a neighbor’s home.

 

In mid-May 2009, Hau Giang province residents discovered a crocodile in Nang Mau canal. The animal has not yet been captured.

 

Nguyen Thi Bay, a fisherwoman in Can Tho city, says her family caught six baby crocodiles from a nearby canal. She sold all six as pets for 500,000 dong/head. Because regulation enforcement is almost nonexistent, many people build cages in their gardens to breed crocodiles as pets.

 

On July 20th, a crocodile escaped to a river in Bac Lieu province while being transported. Several days ago, the local people caught another crocodile in the same river, which had also escaped during transport.

 

“Kids often have bath in the river, so we are very worried about crocodiles on the loose,” explains Nguyen Thi Nguyen in Bac Lieu province.

 

Who is responsible for escaped crocodiles?

 

An escaped crocodile.

 

Breeding crocodiles in the Mekong Delta is nearly out of control. Phan Thi Hong from Can Tho city, is breeding 180 crocodiles. Hong said four years ago, when she began raising the animals, she registered with the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Since then, the department has inspected her crocodile farm only once.

 

In Bac Lieu province, most crocodile breeders have several to several dozen crocodiles. They rear them as part of hunger eradication and poverty reduction projects. Phuoc Long district alone has several thousand families breeding around 56,000 crocodiles. Most don’t register with local authorities and they have to transport their crocodiles to other provinces for sale. Some crocodiles have escaped on the way, but no one admits responsibility for them.

 

Nguyen Quoc Hung, Vice Chief of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Phuoc Long district, acknowledges: “Crocodile farmers have to seek the market for crocodiles by themselves. The local agricultural department doesn’t have any effective measure to control crocodile breeding, transporting and trading activities”.

 

Nguyen Vinh Phuc, chief of the Forest Protection Department of Hau Giang province, reports that there are only 15 families registered to rear crocodiles in Hau Giang, but the real number of breeders is many times higher.

 

“We plan to arrange for the Forest Protection Bureau to control crocodile farms,” notes an official from the Can Tho Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

 

VietNamNet/Dat Viet 

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