Australian gamekeepers have asked the public for help in an attempt to save the life of a crocodile that was depicted with its mouth taped shut.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has asked for information after an unnamed member of the public took several pictures of the reptile near the Mitchell River at Mt Carbine, Far North Queensland on October 28.
In the photo, published by the agency, the crocodile is seen lying on a log, with its snout held closed with black tape or some kind of tape. Experts said that they expect the animal will die if it is not able to hunt and eat prey.
The authorities are not only hunting for what the officials thought was a small freshwater crocodile, but also for the person responsible for taping its mouth shut.
“It is hard to imagine what would motivate someone to do this to an animal. It is incomprehensible. It’s unfortunate, and that’s why we want to be contacted by anyone who has information about who might have done such a thing,” said DES Game Management Director Lindsay Delzoppo, while saying the rangers are actively investigating, ABC reported.
“We will try to locate the animal so that we can catch it, remove the band or ring and release it. “Eventually, the animal will die if we do not intervene,” he added, urging the public to come forward with tips. “It will not die immediately, but it will die if it cannot eat.”
According to the DES, it launched the probe after being contacted by the RSPCA, which was alerted by the person who first spotted the crocodile last week.
As part of the investigation, the rangers will now attempt to capture the animal and remove the tape before releasing it back into the wild. “People who attack crocodiles risk fines of more than $30,000,” the government agency said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
DES is investigating a report about a freshwater crocodile in the Mitchell River near Mt Carbine whose mouth has been taped shut. If you see the crocodile, call 1300 130 372 and report its location. People who attack crocodiles risk fines of more than $30,000 https://t.co/D5HRAZrn0n pic.twitter.com/cB0KwNBZIr
– Queensland Environment (@QldEnvironment) November 2, 2020
Officials have confirmed that under the country’s 1992 Nature Conservation Act, it is an offence to deliberately disturb, damage or kill a freshwater crocodile.
Freshwater crocodiles are often smaller than saltwater crocodiles and pose a much smaller threat to humans, the authorities explained in a fact sheet, which states that “freshwater crocodiles” mainly eat small animals such as insects, fish, frogs, lizards, bats and turtles.
“However, like many wild animals, freshwater crocodiles can become aggressive when they feel threatened or cornered, and people are encouraged not to approach the animals when they see them in the wild. When left alone, freshwater crocodiles generally pose very little danger to the community. They differ from estuarine (or saltwater) crocodiles in their smaller body size and narrower snout,” the agency said.
The public is urged to report any crocodile sightings as soon as possible by calling 1300 130 372. DES said it will investigate all reports it receives….