Of Muggers And Men: Crocodile Rescues In September

October 9, 2023 | By Sutirtho Roy
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Encounters between crocodiles and human beings have occurred ever since the very first civilisations cropped up around the freshwater bodies of the world. Already the rulers of riverines since the age of the dinosaurs, these reptiles have come closer to humankind as our populations grow and habitations expand. 

To prevent human-wildlife conflict from taking place, the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit operating out of Agra rushed to save four mugger crocodiles from separate instances that took place across Uttar Pradesh.

A mugger or marsh crocodile was spotted in Nagla Amaan village near Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh in September. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Shresatha Pachori]

Reptiles in Firozabad

The first challenging rescue took place at Nagla Amaan village in Firozabad, when a quiet morning was disrupted by the presence of an unlikely visitor. Passers-by noticed a giant 10-foot-long mugger crocodile within an agricultural field.

Several awareness sessions held had managed to disperse proper guidelines on how to react in such a situation. The locals immediately notified the authorities, who wasted no time in contacting the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. Wildlife SOS was subsequently informed on its emergency rescue helpline, following which a three-member team was immediately dispatched.

The 10-foot-long mugger crocodile was rescued from an agricultural field in an hour-long operation. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Shresatha Pachori]

After travelling nearly 100 kms to reach the site, the Rapid Response Unit carried out an hour-long operation to safely extricate the crocodile. The team then conducted an on-site medical examination on the rescued crocodile. Fortunately, the crocodile had suffered no injuries, and was released into its natural habitat. 

The second rescue took place in Firozabad as well, in the Nagla Bawan village. This time, the crocodile in question measured up to six feet in length. Though smaller than the one rescued before it, the reptile was large enough to cause a ruckus in the neighbourhood after it ventured out of a water canal close by. The mugger managed to make its way into a room within the agricultural field. However, the cognizant villagers chose not to intervene on their own, and turned to wildlife personnel instead for help.

Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department also rescued a six-foot-long crocodile from Nagla Bawan village in Firozabad. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Shresatha Pachori]

A joint team consisting of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife SOS saved the crocodile in a collaborative operation. This reptile had sustained no injuries as well, and was safely released into the wild.

Muggers of Manpur and Hathras

The first two rescues took place within the span of a week from locations that were close to each other. The third one occurred in the last week of September, when a five-foot-long mugger was discovered by residents of the Manpur village in Uttar Pradesh. The animal had ventured out of a nearby water canal and entered the adjoining village. The villagers consequently informed the forest department, who roped in Wildlife SOS on this rescue mission.

A five-ft-long crocodile was rescued from Manpur village in UP’s Mainpuri district. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Shresatha Pachori]

A two-member team covered a distance of 140 kms to reach the distressed crocodile. Upon arriving at the site, members of the Rapid Response Unit carefully assessed the situation, and prepared the necessary gear required to gently carry out the rescue. In tense situations of human-animal conflict, our team ensures that the surrounding people as well as the concerned animal remain safe and unharmed.

The reptile was lured into a trap cage and was released in a suitable habitat near Jasrana, under the vigilant surveillance of forest department officers. Incidents like this reflect the merits of timely communication and the awareness about human-wildlife conflict mitigation. 

India is home to gharials, muggers, and saltwater crocodiles. [Graphic (c) Wildlife SOS/Shivalika Swar]

The fourth and final rescue occurred within a week of its predecessor, where the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit rushed to the aid of a seven-foot-long mugger at Narai village in Hathras.

The rescue operation, undertaken jointly by Wildlife SOS and the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, was initiated after alarmed villagers noticed the reptile inside the village pond. After the animal was saved with the use of a trap cage, an on-site examination was carried out to check for any possible injuries. The mugger was declared fit and was released back into its natural habitat. 

The mugger rescued from Narai village safely made its way back into its natural habitat as soon as it was deemed fit for release. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Shresatha Pachori]

Living with Crocodiles in India

The mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) is one among the three extant crocodilian species found in India. Measuring a size that is midway between the enormous saltwater crocodile and the narrow-snouted piscivorous gharial, the mugger happens to be most prone to human-wildlife conflict. This is partially due to its widespread distribution in the country.

The mugger has habitats ranging across the water bodies of West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Owing to their proximity to human settlements, these crocodiles often end up in conflict scenarios. Wildlife SOS has been alerted of the presence of these enigmatic reptiles often, even from the most bizarre locations!

In April 2023, one crocodile found itself inside the bathroom of a village. In an incident that took place a few years ago, a mugger was spotted inside a railway station. Mugger sightings are particularly common in the city of Vadodara in Gujarat, especially after rains. 

Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh is no stranger to unexpected crocodilian guests. A mugger had once become the victim of a deadly fish hook that had lodged in its mouth, necessitating immediate professional intervention. In another case, a massive crocodile was spotted in the Dikhtauli village of Firozabad, where its very presence caused locals to panic and pelt the animal with stones. 

Fortunately, Wildlife SOS and the forest department arrived in the nick of time to save the animal before the situation worsened for humans and the mugger. If you live in an area near freshwater ecosystems where muggers reside, or spot the reptile in your locale, do not attempt to engage with the animal. Reach out to your nearest animal welfare organisation or state forest department, and if you happen to be in any of our operating cities, immediately inform our Rapid Response Units:
Delhi NCR: +91-9871963535
Agra, Uttar Pradesh: +91-9917109666
Vadodara, Gujarat: +91-9825011117
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir: +91-7006692300/ +91-9419778280

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Hotline Number | हॉटलाइन नंबर

Delhi NCT Region +91-9871963535
Agra Region (UP) +91-9917109666
Vadodra Region +91-9825011117
J&K Region +91 7006692300
+91 9419778280