Firsly, Mike S thank you very much for your recent donation. Please bear with me I will blog more about orangutans soon but first I'd like to reply to Dana and Sheryl who commented on my last post Endangered crocodile species kills local man. I agree it was a sad end for this crocodile that had lived for over 50 years and is an endangered species. As soon as I saw the photographs of her caught and dead, I realised how old she must have been. The cynic in me is surprised she lived as long as she did. The pragmatist in me knows, as soon as she took the man, her life would probably be short. Here, in Kalimantan, for the people who live on and from the rivers or forest, nature is a little more redder in tooth and claw than it is for those of us who deal with emails, traffic jams and income tax returns. An eye for an eye – even between people – remains acceptable.
Even if we had been informed straight away, there would have been next to nothing we could have done. In no way are we equipped to deal with the capture and translocation of a reptile – especially one almost 5m long. Moreover, none of our staff could have calmed the crowd that went out on the hunt.
The crocodile had apparently been seen before. How, when and where has been harder to find out, especially in this case, when our questions inevitably carry the sense “What was the man thinking of? It is partly his fault.”
As with snakes and spiders, almost universally crocodiles get bad press. Tomistoma normally eat fish – hence their elongated snout – so people do not seem too concerned about them. That all changed when the crocodile attacked. By catching the right crocodile, we can hope no further action will be taken against other Tomistoma. Certainly, the attack has not unleashed indiscriminate slaughter of all crocodiles.
By encouraging Devis (Manager - Pondok Ambung Research Station) to write up this case we can hopefully understand more about the attack and learn the right lessons. Tomistoma are fish specialists but it should not be surprising they are capable of eating people too. However they should not be given the title ‘man-eaters’ but should just be treated with respect.
Apologies for the length of this post; complex and emotional issues can’t be explained succinctly. I am just happy I have electricity tonight, so I can keep typing.
Here's an orangutan picture to end on. I think this is a great photo, it was taken by Hugh Sturrock at Camp Leakey a good few years ago.