How do we resolve human-crocodile conflict?

Image courtesy of dMz from Pixabay

KOTA KINABALU, Dec 31: Resolving the human-crocodile conflict (HCC) demands a deep understanding to create a mutually beneficial solution within the natural order and despite differing opinions, finding common ground is essential in addressing this complex issue, says Professor Dr. Abdul Hamid Ahmad.

A zoologist at the Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Prof Dr Abdul Hamid said the general perception is that the presence of crocodiles is seen as detrimental to human interest.

However, he said in the scientific realm of wildlife management, the effects of HCC on both humans and crocodiles often lead to conflicts in public discussions, sometimes even failing to find a solution to the existing conflict.

“In facing this challenge, we must realise that we are a society living in a country where crocodiles are a natural part of our environment. Hence, we must gain a better understanding of this issue,” he said in a recent interview.

Sharing his research conducted between 2005 and 2007 on crocodiles in Sungai Paitan, Sandakan, it was discovered that residents, particularly those in Kampung Kebulu, consistently experienced crocodile attacks.

Abdul Hamid recalled that this was because at that time, there were no jetties, and the villagers only had logs to stand or squat on for daily routines like bathing and washing clothes.

According to the Wildlife Department’s report, the districts of Tuaran, Lahad Datu, and Kinabatangan are identified as having a high occurrence of crocodile threats, particularly from the species Crocodylus porosus or saltwater crocodile.

Meanwhile, a member of the Malaysian Civil Defence Force (CDF) in Lahad Datu, Badrul Baba, 35, with a decade of experience, said it is not easy to capture these reptiles because, besides being aggressive, crocodiles are dangerous, adding to the complexity of the task.

“I am grateful that during this period, I have not experienced any untoward incidents,” Badrul said adding that he had successfully participated in capturing crocodiles, weighing 1.2 tonnes and 500 kilograms, in the respective districts.

On Dec 4, 2020, Bernama reported that Azlan Arif Abdullah, 16, was rescued from a crocodile attack by six friends who swiftly intervened and managed to rescue him from the crocodile attack in the 3.30pm incident in Sungai Kampung Mengkabong, Tuaran.

The crocodile, measuring around 1.52 metres in length, attacked and bit the victim while he was in the company of a group of teenagers who were searching for clams and limpets along the river.