Update: All 71 ‘on the loose’ crocodiles in S.China captured, no casualties reported
Published: Sep 12, 2023 05:53 PM

A wild saltwater crocodile baby rests on the head of its mother in Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on June 26, 2022. Photo:Xinhua

A wild saltwater crocodile baby rests on the head of its mother in Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on June 26, 2022. Photo:Xinhua News Agency

All the 71 Siamese crocodiles that escaped from a farm in South China's Guangdong Province have been captured after more than a week of searching, local authorities said on Tuesday, adding that the last crocodile was captured on Monday night. No casualties have been reported so far.

As Typhoon Haikui dumped multiple rounds of extreme rainfall that flooded the Beijieluo village, a total of 71 crocodiles were flushed into the streets after the crocodile farm was damaged, local media reported on Tuesday. Local authorities were using sonar equipment to capture the reptiles, while reminding residents to refrain from going outdoors. 

In a video circulating online on Monday, several crocodiles were spotted on the road near the lake in the village, with a road sign indicating the direction to Maoming. Local residents were told to stay away from the waters with fishing activities also banned.

Villagers who had previously spotted the crocodiles at the farm said these reptiles weigh at least 100 kilograms each. Local police officers said the animals are currently in deep water, and they are using sonar equipment to capture the escaped crocodiles, which will be shot dead out of security concerns. 

"We have tried to take control of the situation but the number of escaped crocodiles is quite large," an official said. Among the 71 Siamese crocodiles on the run, 69 are adults and two are juveniles.

Multiple departments have rushed to the scene to ensure the safety of residents, who were suggested to stay indoors as the capture operation was difficult, media reports said. 

No casualties have been reported as of press time, officials at the emergency management bureau of Maoming told media on Tuesday.

Affected by Haikui, multiple areas in Maoming issued a red warning for rainstorms from Monday evening to Tuesday. In the early morning on Tuesday, Maoming raised its flood emergency response level from level IV to level III. 

The recent heavy rainfall has caused significant damage to the rural areas where villagers mainly rely on fish farming and raising poultry and livestock for their livelihoods. Numerous fish ponds and breeding farms were flooded, resulting in substantial property damage, China Newsweek reported.

The head of the crocodile farm in Maoming told China Newsweek that the breeding area is usually secured by a 3-meter-high wall and wire mesh. He said that the heavy rains may have caused flooding that breached the enclosure walls, and the wire mesh failed to prevent the reptiles  from escaping.

Global Times