This month’s A Load of Croc is written by CRC Research Biologist Jonathan Triminio
Raising awareness for our endangered species has been a critical aspect of conservation that has afforded success stories for countless species over the years. Although science and research play an important role in saving species from their demise, community support and interest has been a fundamental principle that has moved us closer towards our conservation goal. In modern-day culture, conservationists often designate days or weeks out of the year for the commemoration of our natural wonders. For instance, we observe Shark Week in August and World Wetlands Day in February; and that is just to name a few. These celebrations have a momentous impact on the conservation of species, as it raises awareness and funds for research, and mobilizes community support in diverse societies. Not much is different in the Crocodile Conservation World. Well, we might’ve taken it up a notch!
Crocodylians are perhaps one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. With over 200 million years of evolution, they are a symbol of stealth and grace and the Art of adaptation and evolution. A predator that has mastered its domain and has seen the rise and fall of other species deserves more than a day of honor. They deserve CROCtober! What first started as a small croc-themed festival in the United States, quickly became an annual global month-long celebration of crocodile education and awareness. Merging both Oktober Beer Fest and Croctober Fest, crocodile enthusiasts around the world have a blast while learning and sharing knowledge on this magnificent group of animals. There are some astounding facts about crocodilians, and this is the month to learn all about them. For us at the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC), this is the time of the year when we put down our headlamps and kayaks and join colleagues, zoos and our communities to have a crocin’ fun time. Community Outreach is our priority for this month. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our usual outreach booths and school visits have turned into virtual learning sessions. Our Program Coordinator Darcy Uclez has been working relentlessly this month attending skype meetings, virtual outreach presentations and preparing educational material for teachers to include in their lesson plans hoping to spark the interest of the young generation and get them to participate in conservation action. Not only are we providing the facts about the wonderful world of crocodiles, but also tips on how to co-exist with these marvelous predators. Although social interactions are not an option for this year, we still found ways to reach out and educate our society through means of radio and TV interviews, and interactive social media posts.
In the midst of having a croc-fabulous time conducting virtual outreach and presentation, we were quick on our feet to respond to crocodile rescue calls. This month alone, CRC rescued 5 crocodiles from very hostile environments and relocated them to a Croc paradise known as the Placencia Lagoon.
- Although Gil did not come from a hostile environment, being in a tilapia pond in Elridge, Toledo could’ve posed a threat to the working crew and him, despite not being aggressive. Gil enjoyed his daily buffet of tilapia, but could not stay in this crocodile paradise and was removed by Machaca Forest Department officers. The CRC picked him up along with Pumpkin, an American crocodile hatchling found in the same yard as Gil, and relocated them both to the Placencia Lagoon.
- Our second rescue event took place in mid-CROCtober. A neighborhood crocodile had been living in the drains of Ladyville suburbs for months. With an abundance of birds and frogs, Lee, a subadult croc was growing quickly, and the community became more concerned every day. The CRC took a day to capture Lee out of a culvert drain and relocate him to the Placencia Lagoon where is now safe from humans and harm.
- Papusa, a hybrid Morelet’s crocodile from Toledo, was also caught in a fish pond having the time of her life. Papusa was caught by Machaca Forest Department officers and relocated by CRC on the western side of the Placencia Lagoon where she now enjoys the fresh water and abundance of fish.
- Last but certainly not least, the CRC ended CROCtober with an interesting crocodile rescue mission. Grunt, an adult Morelet’s crocodile had been living under a house in Belize City for weeks. With heavy rains, many areas of Belize City became inundated making it accessible for crocodiles searching for territory. Grunt got comfortable under a house, and the CRC was contacted to relocate the 6 ft crocodile. Living in a heavily polluted environment, Grunt had to be captured and relocated before it was too late. The CRC managed to safely capture Grunt and transport him to the Placencia peninsula where he was released into the lagoon later that night.
With plenty of real estates and food, these crocs are sure to live a long life in this safe and healthy ecosystem. Our community as well have shown their support and are delighted to have them as our wildlife neighbors. Ending this year’s CROCtober celebration, the CRC had the opportunity to be on the Love FM Morning Show, where we discussed CROCtober, and important topics of crocodile conservation and management. Despite our daily social media post, TV and radio interviews are an excellent vehicle that we can utilize to communicate our message to different groups of society. There is no doubt that 2020 hindered the work progress of many institutions. Nevertheless, it was a team effort among the CRC family to make CROCtober as delightful as possible for this otherwise challenging year.
As CROCtober comes to an end, we would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to our local supporters, international donors and partner organizations for making CROCtober a success. Without their continuous support, our work would not be possible. Although CROCtober is ending, the work for CRC never does. There will always be new things to learn and teach and wildlife to rescue. So, don’t forget to continue to follow our adventures online and learn more about the wonderful world of crocodiles!