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Conservation

Deaths of Indonesia’s 300 crocodiles in mob rampage must not go unpunished

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 9:28pm

We are shocked and horrified at the recent massacre of nearly 300 crocodiles in Indonesia’s West Papua province (“Indonesian machete mob slaughters 300 crocodiles in revenge attack”, July 16). Although the loss of a human life is most devastating, a crocodile cannot be entirely blamed for following its natural instinct – killing whatever “prey” enters its habitat.

Man’s understanding of crocodiles is very limited. Normally rare, attacks on humans by crocodiles are related to defence of territory, protection of their young, or accidental or intentional provocation by humans.

Crocodiles are often perceived as monsters because of their scaly, slithering and brutish form. What is most misleading is the crocodile’s reputation as a man-eater. This ill-feeling toward the creature has had serious consequences, resulting in the unnecessary death of so many crocodiles, most of which were not at fault. This appalling behaviour is nothing but a violent slaughter of defenceless creatures in misguided revenge-seeking.

Human beings should be the protectors of wildlife, not the destroyers. My organisation concurs with Basar Manullang, the head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency, that crocodiles are god’s creatures that need to be protected.

What the mob has done is totally against the law. The local communities should not let the mob’s slaughter of crocodiles become a precedent for others. It could set a dangerous trend. For example, if a tiger or other endangered species were to maul someone to death, would that species be killed in this atrocious manner?

Video: Hundreds of crocodiles left dead by machete mob

Since crocodiles are a protected species in Indonesia, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry should work together with the police and the Natural Resources Conservation Agency to bring to book the initiators of this mob rampage. As crocodiles are covered by the conservation law of the country, they should be afforded appropriate protection.

Right now, the only effective way to deal with and prevent such merciless and unjustified killing is for the perpetrators to be prosecuted and jailed for lengthy periods of time.

S M Mohd Idris, president, Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Penang