In Indonesia, brave islanders free croc caught in a tyre for the last six years

WION Web Team
Palu, Indonesia Updated: Feb 10, 2022, 07:54 AM(IST)

At the end of what he described as a three-week rescue effort, Tili, a 34-year-old bird seller, used chicken as bait and ropes to catch the crocodile, before dozens of locals helped drag the crocodile to shore and cut the tyre around its neck. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In 2016 residents of Palu city on Sulawesi island spotted the saltwater crocodile with a motorbike tyre around its neck, prompting conservation workers to try to lure it from a river

An Indonesian crocodile stuck in a tyre for more than five years has been rescued, freed from the rubber vice, and released in the wild, officials and residents said Tuesday.

In 2016 residents of Palu city on Sulawesi island spotted the saltwater crocodile with a motorbike tyre around its neck, prompting conservation workers to try to lure it from a river.

But late on Monday, a local resident rescued the 5.2m (17ft) long reptile from its tight grasp. The reptile had usually been spotted sunbathing in the Palu River on Central Sulawesi.

Also read | Religious leaders write to Zuckerberg asking for Instagram kids to be scrapped

At the end of what he described as a three-week rescue effort, Tili, a 34-year-old bird seller, used chicken as bait and ropes to catch the crocodile, before dozens of locals helped drag the crocodile to shore and cut the tyre around its neck.

"I just wanted to help, I hate seeing animals trapped and suffering," Tili said.

The first two attempts to rescue the croc failed, he explained, due to the ropes not being strong enough to contend with the croc's weight. He then turned to the nylon ropes used for towing boats.

Also read | Today, solar eruptions will hit the planet, causing a geomagnetic storm

"I was already exhausted so I let them finish the rescue, the crocodile was unbelievably heavy, everybody was sweating and getting very tired."  

To the relieved cheers from locals, the crocodile was returned to the water immediately after it was rescued. 

Some conservationists think the tyre may have been placed around the croc's neck in a failed attempt to capture it as a pet in the archipelago nation that is home to several species of the animal. 

Also read | Mt. Everest's 2,000-year-old glacier will disappear by mid-century, warn scientists

Tili captured the crocodile before the authorities, perhaps because they did not have the equipment to conduct a rescue in the river that is home to more than 30 different crocodiles.

"Yesterday was a historical day for us, we are grateful the crocodile was finally rescued and we appreciate the locals who showed concern for the wildlife," says Hasmuni Hasmar, head of the local conservation agency.

Watch | Indonesia crocodile freed from tire after six years

The local government offered a reward for catching the croc and removing the tyre in early 2020 but later cancelled the contest due to safety concerns for the reptile. 

Tili, however, is set to receive a prize after his daring plan worked.

"We will award Tili for his effort in rescuing the wildlife," Hasmar said.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App