Forest dept sheds no tears over croc's plight at Ranganathittu

Net stuck in reptiles mouth; Greens suspect violation of fishing ban
Last Updated : 12 July 2012, 18:37 IST

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Suspicions of illegal fishing at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary loom large after a group of wildlife enthusiasts, during a visit to the sanctuary, found a marsh crocodile (also called a magar) with a fishing net stuck in its mouth.

A photograph of the crocodile by wildlife enthusiast and photographer Hymakar Valluru has raised several doubts whether illegal fishing persists in the sanctuary.
The Forest department officials said the reptile may have strayed into the sanctuary. But they have failed to take action, despite wildlife enthusiasts bringing the matter to their notice.

Valluru, an employee with a private firm in the City, said he visited the sanctuary - along with friends - on the afternoon of July 6. They found a nylon fishing net and twigs stuck in the crocodile’s mouth and the reptile struggling to get rid of them.

“We saw the crocodile lying on a rock in the river, when we were taken for a boat ride in the sanctuary. It seemed to be feeling uncomfortable. When we brought the matter to the notice of the staff, they did not seem to be bothered.”

When the group of wildlife enthusiasts tried to a have a closer look at it, the crocodile vanished into the waters.

The nature lovers alerted Devaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests, who promised to look into the matter.  This island of the River Cauvery, which is spread over 40 acres, was declared a bird sanctuary in 1940. With the declaration, fishing was banned in the river. The incident raises questions as to whether the ban is being implemented strictly.

Dipak Sarmah, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, upon learning about the incident from DCF, Ranganathittu, told Deccan Herald that the crocodile might have come from the upstream of the river.

“The current in the river within the sanctuary is very strong and this makes fishing difficult. The reptile may have been entangled in the net in the upstream of the river, where the current is less strong and fishing is permitted. There is no question of illegal fishing within the sanctuary,” he said.

Sources in the department said efforts were on to rescue the reptile, “but something can be done only when it is sighted,” said sources. They said a team had been formed to trace the crocodile.

“Once it is traced, we will inform the Mysore zoo, which has experts and veterinarians. They will treat the crocodile,” they said.

Published 12 July 2012, 18:37 IST

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