A big crocodile named Mary

Illegally kept 4.4 m crocodile

This crocodile was kept illegally in North Sulawesi province and was 4.4 meters long. It made the news because the medic that was trying to feed it fell into its enclosure. She was violently killed by this salt water crocodile, the most aggressive species around. It did not just make the local news but was even reported on BBC world news. Here it was reported that the monster man eater had been taken to Masarang’s Tasikoki wildlife rescue and education centre. However the story went a little different so I like to give a little update here.

Tasikoki rescue team

Indeed our Tasikoki rescue team was asked by the Ministry of Forestry to evacuate the crocodile. This is a difficult operation for such a heavy animal. Billy the Tasikoki animal care manager and Noldi and other animal keepers went and eventually managed to tie up the huge croc. The police then took him (males get much larger than females so most likely the name Mary was not correct) to Tangkoko National Park. Our Tasikoki centre was already filled to capacity even with the new crocodile enclosures that were sponsored by Orangutan Help Luxemburg. At present we are housing 11 confiscated crocodiles already.

Billy and Mary
Here Billy, Tasikoki Wildlife manager and Noldi one of heads of animal care, are tying up the big crocodile named “Mary”.

This crocodile was known to the authorities and they had failed several times before to confiscate the protected animal. Strangely enough none of the newspapers mentioned the name or position of the “owner” of this animal. This makes me believe he must be a powerful person in the region. This time however with the death of the veterinarian that was feeding the animal there was no choice but to get the animal out. The local people were very upset with the presence of the man-eater in their community.

Crocodile Mary didn’t survive

Because the crocodile facilities at Tasikoki are already filled to more than capacity (we now have 11 crocodiles on Tasikoki) and for police bureaucratic reasons the big croc was taken to Tangkoko National Park. He was kept in a pit which was big enough but it was devoid of water. The giant was completely exposed and died of a heat stroke. These facts were again not reported. No one likes to look incompetent…

crocodile Mary
Here our staff is closing the eyes of the giant and getting ready to get it out of its enclosure.

After the news of the death of the caretaker of the crocodile went viral many people started calling Tasikoki. They asked if they could come take “their” crocodile as well! That is a tough call…

We do have enough swamp available at the Tasikoki compound but we will need to build many more enclosures in it. This will need lots of material and these crocodiles are unlikely to be ever released. Wild crocodiles that were removed as demanded by fearful local villagers have been released. Only to be found to travel back to their original territory after short periods in which they sometimes swam more than 100 kilometres! Having to take care of so many crocodiles is also costing a lot. They need food and maintenance of the facilities that are built in the salt water of the mangroves. So we are facing more practical problems in the months ahead.

crcodile Mary
A picture showing how dozens of people from army, police and local people, work together to lift the big crocodile out of its enclosure and onto the truck.

Want to help Tasikoki?

At least this case brought attention to the cause of wildlife issues. And there are still many more that we have to deal with. If you want to help, or volunteer with Tasikoki in taking care of more than 500 animals of many different species please contact us.

Willie Smits
Founder Masarang Foundation