By Steffi Joseph
Vishwamitir Railway Station, Vadodara, Gujarat had an unusual visitor a few days ago when a 2.5 ft. long crocodile was found sitting comfortably in a water tank at the station. It created panic amonst the travelers and visitors who did not seem very pleased by the intruder’s visit. To take control of the situation, Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) carried out a rescue operation.
The crocodile, also known as a march crocodile or mugger (Crocodylus Palustris) was found in a water tank at the station from which the stall vendors draw water for their daily chores throughout the day. A huge crowd had gathered around the animal tha was sitting in the tank while the Reserve Police Force (RPF) helped people to stay calm as they waited for the rescue team to arrive. The operation was carried out with ease by Shodhan Gandhi, a volunteer at GSPCA, calming many people who were panicking at the station. The crocodile was then shifted for observation to the GSPCA Rescue and Rehabilitation Center for Crocodiles, Vadodara.
Vishwamitri River that flows through the heart of Vadodara city is home to over 200 crocodiles. During the monsoon the river overflows with floods and this usually leads to the migration of crocodiles to smaller ponds. These ponds are usually surrounded by human settlements. In search for food, these reptiles accidentally enter human houses or backyards.
Snehal Bhavsar, Honorary Secretary GSPCA stated, “When people come across such situations they should not throw stones or try to harm the animal or relocate him themselves. They should always keep our helpline number or contact details of forest officials at hand and in this way we would be able to coordinate the rescue and return of the animal to the wild, avoiding any kind of conflict.
Another such rescue operation was carried out by Wildlife SOS- GSPCA rescue team a few days ago when a 11.2 ft. crocodile had tried to enter a shepherd’s house about 20 kilometers away from Vadodara. The mammoth creature was rescued and finally released in Narmada River. Read the story:http://wildlifesos.org/blog/crocodile-returns-after-15-years)
There is strict protection of these reptiles under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It is important to conserve Vadodara’s muggers as they are a unique example of peaceful co-existence between man and beast.
It was definetely a very unique sight to find a crocodile peacefully residing at a railway station until spotted one day by a visitor. The team was just thankful that the crocodile could not board any of the trains and was successfully escorted out of the station by them.