Despite their small brain size, crocs are highly intelligent and this 1.4m male American crocodile, whom we named Einstein, demonstrated for over a month their intellect capability.
Five years ago the CRC received a call from Forest Department in regards to assisting them take out a 1.2m Morelet’s crocodile from a pool. We saw a picture and we thought this was an easy capture. Then we got to the pool… this was NO regular size pool, but a mini-lake! We set out a particular trap and in 24hrs this croc was caught and released in a river far away. So when we got the call again (this area is near Monkey River and Tennis River), we thought it would be similar then last time… well it wasn’t!
Making residence in a 1 acre pool which had an abundance of food (fish and frogs), Einstein didn’t fall for any of the traditional trapping methods. He was spotted even laying right next to the traps, taunting us! CRC decided then to call our good friend and colleague Frank Robb, well-known for trapping the alligator Chance in Chicago, Illinois. We brainstormed, we tried some of his usual techniques… Einstein continued to outsmart us. But speaking with Frank, it was time to think outside of the box in using indirect trapping methods.
Executive Director Dr. Marisa Tellez asked, “What is the one predator of this size crocodile in the wild (and not talking about a human!)? A jaguar! And how do jaguars hunt? Stealth and patience!!!” So for about an hour, Dr. Tellez pursued the croc with a noose in one hand. Luckily the croc was staying in the shallow end so she was able to creep towards Einstein slowly, just with nose and eyes above water. Yoga breathing to slow down heart rate, and each step forward taking seconds so not to fire off the crocs ISOs. There was a moment that the croc was inches away from the noose and then BAM!, Einstein decided to turn towards the deep end, in which Dr. Tellez could no longer be stealth like- Einstein wins once again!!!
Night falls and it is time to get in our kayak and do the same type of pursuit. After about an hour, Research Biologist Jonathan was able to noose Einstein under the water while balancing on kayak. He started to observe the Einstein would try to bury himself under the pool mud to camoflauge- smart croc!!!
After taking some measurements, and an hour in the truck, Einstein was released in some prime croc real estate in the Placencia Lagoon. It’s possible he found himself in the pool due to inability to find good territory in the bodies of water around him, but Placencia Lagoon still has intact croc habitat in which a youngster can soon establish territory.