Indonesian city offers cash bounty to crocodile hunters

A sign reading "Mind Your Life", alerting people to the crocodile threat on a beach in Kupang, in East Nusa Tenggara province.
A sign reading "Mind Your Life", alerting people to the crocodile threat on a beach in Kupang, in East Nusa Tenggara province. PHOTO: AFP

KUPANG (AFP) - An Indonesian city has hit on an original idea to rid its popular beaches of crocodiles - it will offer cash prizes to people who catch the man-eating reptiles, an official said Friday (Aug 5).

The population of dangerous saltwater crocodiles around two beaches near Kupang in eastern Indonesia has been increasing in recent years and there have been reports of tourists being attacked.

Authorities now plan to launch a competition offering cash prizes of five million rupiah (S$511) to animal experts for each of the reptiles caught alive, said local tourism chief Marius Ardu Jelamu.

"We have warned visitors to be careful when visiting the beaches but it's not enough, we must do something," Jelamu told AFP.

"Some of these animals are three to four metres long, this is very scary."

Jelamu said the scheme was aimed at only people experienced in dealing with crocodiles - not the general public - and the animals would likely be caught using tranquilliser guns and ropes.

After being captured, the crocodiles - which are a protected species under Indonesian law so cannot be killed - would be released back into the wild far from the beaches.

Participants will compete in teams and the scheme is set to begin in the near future, said Jelamu.

However the local wildlife agency expressed concerns that the contest could be dangerous for participants, with agency chief Maman Surahman saying that crocodiles were "scary creatures" for humans.

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest crocodile species, reaching up to seven metres in length, and are known as formidable predators.

The huge Indonesian archipelago is home to a vast array of exotic wildlife, including several species of crocodile.

Crocodiles in Indonesia regularly attack and kill humans. In April a Russian tourist was mauled to death by a crocodile in the Raja Ampat islands, a popular diving site in the east of the archipelago.