Crocodile in Paradise: Thailand hunts reptile in resort town

July 23, 2018
Rawai beach, where a crocodile has made an unwelcome appearance

Thailand is in hot pursuit of a cagey crocodile that has made unwelcome appearances off the beaches of resort island Phuket only to slip through the clutches of local authorities.

The evasive reptile was first seen near Rawai about a week ago but has resurfaced in multiple locations near the beaches on the Andaman Sea.

A group of hunters has joined an expanding team trying to track it down.

Thawee Thongcha, the mayor of Karon town on the west coast of Phuket, told AFP Monday they had come very close to success.

"We almost caught it when it was seen near the beach in Karon, (we were) metres away but it moved quickly back to the sea," Thawee said.

"We do not yet know where it comes from."

Thailand's pristine beaches draw millions of tourists a year and Phuket in the southwest is one of the most popular destinations.

Thawee said choppy monsoon seas had prevented fishing boats from using nets to capture the creature, which is almost two metres in length.

The Siamese crocodile was once ubiquitous across Southeast Asia but is currently listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University, said the presence of a crocodile in Phuket meant it was likely a hybrid saltwater version of the species bred on a farm, and it was not the first such sighting.

"Normally the open sea is not a place where a crocodile would live," he said.

Crocodile numbers in Thailand and Southeast Asia generally have been decimated by habitat loss, commercial hunting for the skin trade and the capture of live reptiles to stock crocodile farms, according to the IUCN.

In Thailand there are just a handful of wild populations in central and western national parks.

A French tourist was bitten on the leg by a crocodile inside a Thai national park in January last year when she tried to get close to take a selfie.

In 2014 a Thai woman committed suicide by leaping into a pond of at a farm popular with tourists on Bangkok's outskirts.

Explore further: Australian rangers trap big crocodile near tourist gorge

Related Stories

Australian rangers trap big crocodile near tourist gorge

July 10, 2018

Wildlife rangers said Tuesday that they had trapped a 4.7-meter (15-foot) saltwater crocodile, the largest they had ever caught in the northern Australian Katherine River and in an upstream region popular with tourists that ...

Smoking to be stubbed out on Thai beaches

October 17, 2017

Smokers who flout a smoking ban on 20 of Thailand's most famous tourist beaches will face a $3,000 fine or up to a year in prison, Thai authorities have said.

Dangerous reptiles

June 28, 2018

The southeast Asian island state of East Timor has a problem with crocodiles. Between 2007 and 2014, there was a sharp increase in attacks on humans. Many of these attacks were fatal. Sebastian Brackhane, a research assistant ...

No place for crocodiles in Philippines: official

September 14, 2011

Efforts to save the Philippine crocodile, a "critically endangered" reptile, could go in vain as bureaucrats oppose their release into the wild, a top Philippine environment official said Wednesday.

Malaysia scientists tag Borneo saltwater crocodile

June 29, 2011

Wildlife researchers in Malaysia are to track a saltwater crocodile by satellite, they said Wednesday, in a bid to find out why nearly 40 people have been attacked on Borneo island over a decade.

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.