SINGAPORE - Crocodiles can usually be seen sunbathing and swimming at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, but they have made surprise appearances at other parts of the island.
The reptiles have been spotted at Changi, Pasir Ris and Lower Seletar, with the latest sighting at East Coast Park on Tuesday (Oct 5).
While they have been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "regionally extinct" in Singapore in 1996, research has found that crocodiles have never left the Republic's waters.
The species found here is the estuarine crocodile, which has been recorded in local waters since the early 1800s.
Estuarine crocodiles are native to Singapore and feed mostly on fish, said Dr Adrian Loo, group director of wildlife management at the National Parks Board (NParks).
Also known as saltwater crocodiles, they can reach more than 5m in length, according to NParks' website.
The existence of these apex predators occupying the top of the food chain means Singapore has a stable, healthy ecosystem, wrote Ms Kate Pocklington, senior conservator at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, in her e-book about saltwater crocodiles here.
The Straits Times recaps some sightings of the world's largest reptile in Singapore.
1. June 2019, Sungei Kadut
A 3.4m-long crocodile was caught after it was spotted in a drain in Sungei Kadut Drive on the morning of June 21.
NParks officers worked with trained contractors to secure the crocodile, which was then transferred to a crocodile farm.
It is believed that the crocodile entered the drainage system from Sungei Pang Sua river.
Wildlife experts said the injured reptile may have been fleeing from a territorial fight or may have been relocating from Malaysia.
2. February 2019, Lower Seletar Reservoir
A 1.7m-long crocodile was trapped in the early hours of Feb 23 by national water agency PUB and NParks.
Water and fishing activities had been scaled back after the reptile was seen on Feb 14.
The authorities caught the reptile and released it into the wild as a safety precaution.
3. November 2017, East Coast Park
A crocodile was spotted at a construction site in East Coast Park, prompting the National Sailing Centre - which is located along the park - to suspend all water activities for a few days.
4. August 2017, Changi Beach Park and Pasir Ris Park
Two sightings of a crocodile swimming in the waters along Changi Beach Park were reported.
A 2m-long crocodile was also seen basking in the sun on a mudflat at Sungei Tampines in Pasir Ris Park.
5. July 2017, Kranji Way
A 1.5m-long crocodile died after it was hit by a car on July 5.
There have been crocodile sightings in the Kranji Way area because of its proximity to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
6. April 2014, Kranji Reservoir
The carcass of a 3.6m-long crocodile, nicknamed Barney, was found by anglers at Kranji Reservoir.
The 400kg creature, believed to be one of the largest wild specimens here, was found dead with a metal rod in its eye and a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth, said PUB.
Its body was said to have been disposed at a nearby farm.
PUB said then that since 1989, it has authorised a team of handlers to capture the reptiles alive and hand them to a farm in Kranji for safekeeping.
The largest crocodile caught in the wild in Singapore was 4.72m long, and was presented to the then Raffles Museum.
It was shot by game hunter George Paddison Owen in September 1887 at the Serangoon riverbank.
While crocodiles were hunted during the colonial era, a person who kills one today can be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for not more than two years.
Dr Loo said: "Should members of the public encounter a crocodile, they should stay calm and back away slowly.
"They should not approach, provoke, or feed the animal."
The public may also contact NParks on 1800-471-7300.