From time to time on the news we’ve reported on crocodiles turning up in the outlying areas of Belize City, such as Collet or Belama, places that used to be swamp 20 years ago and where all the swampland critters still haven’t moved out. And that’s why we were surprised early this morning in Belize City when we got a call at around 6:00 am, saying that a crocodile had turned up on Castle Street. That’s just off Douglas Jones, where the memory of any swamp was erased almost a hundred years ago. So what’s the croc doing in that neighborhood? That’s probably the same thing he was asking after an unforgettable morning of croc craziness on Castle Street. 7news was there.
Monica Bodden reporting
This croc had every reason to be angry he was tied up inside a backyard on Castle Street. That’s after he squirmed through this drain – you can still see the disturbed area where the broad bellied reptile struggled to get through.
Derek 'Mighty' McKoy - First stumbled upon Croc
"It came out the drain, it came from the left side across the street and it went into the smaller ditch but he couldn't under the bridge so that is where he got stuck. We pulled him back way and threw a rope around it and pulled it up."
They took twenty minutes to subdue the 8 foot croc.
Derek 'Mighty' McKoy
"We just cast it around it's mouth and pulled it up."
"As quick as that?"
Derek 'Mighty' McKoy
"Yes it took the two of us to move it."
His able assistants, though senior in age, showed no fear.
Gilbert Sebastian Nunez - Castle Street Croc Catcher
"Well we're not really afraid you know because life goes on. Those things can't hurt men just like that because men have brains, we have more sense than these things. We won't take any chances though but we can't let any animal fear human."
Doroteo Zetina - Castle Street Croc Catcher
"Well I'll tell you what I used to hunt jaguars for five years long before they start preserve them. This is no threat to me, I have seen these in the wild a lot."
And today, Castle Street was worse than the wild as the croc had to be hauled to another property which meant being dragged down the street and issued a few gratuitous kicks - just for kicks, apparently. By then, the spectacle had drawn a crowd of ogling spectators as the croc was tied up waiting for some authority to come. About three hours later the team from ACES did come and properly tied the croc.
Will Moreno - Belize Wildlife Conservation Emergency Response Team
"What we need to do is actually protect the species that we have here in Belize so it's very important that we don't even mess with the crocodiles. If you find one and you're able to see one it's best for you to call the proper authorities for them to come and pick it up."
And then it was time to cart him away with Sebastian Nunez anchoring the tail, into the Nisan X Trail.
"Well the crocodile is going to go to ACES which is a Crocodile sanctuary - it's a special place where they take care of crocodiles. Right now he needs some rehabilitation - he was actually bashing himself against the concrete there so it's very important that they make sure that he's okay. He's definitely very exhausted and very agitated from all the people that were around it. That's the reason why it ended up bashing himself up against the concrete various times."
And now that it has been carried away, everyone wants to know, what caused a crocodile to end up on Castle Street?:
"It's hard to say how it actually got here but from what I've been told is that from the Bel China there's a canal that comes through the culverts all the way to here and that's probably one of the ways that it got to the location that it got here. It's certainly a threat to public safety, any Crocodile can hurt a kid or an animal that's out there - it is certainly a threat and I'm glad that whoever saw the Crocodile actually called the proper authorities for us to come pick it up."
"I believe he went with a dog because a lot of dogs were barking around here last night and his belly looks fat like he just ate."
And while that folk tale will live on in the memory this neighborhood, this Croc probably won’t forget this sad encounter anytime soon
For context, we should note that this is the first time in a while we’ve seen a croc caught in the city that actually survived. Most times, they are killed, and sold to Chinese restaurateurs – so much so, that the capture of a croc is seen as an instant neighborhood “come-up.” But not in this case, because no reward was offered for its safe handover. But, those who captured and save it can be consoled that they didn’t break the law.
It is against the law to kill, capture or sell a crocodile for consumption. The Morelet and American crocodile are protected under the CITES convention.
This one was taken to the ACES rehab center in Ladyville where it will be rehabilitated and release back into the wild.