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Day 1: Australian experts set trap to rescue Palu crocodile choked by tire for years

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, February 11, 2020  /  08:12 pm
Day 1: Australian experts set trap to rescue Palu crocodile choked by tire for years

Australian TV show host Matthew Nicolas Wright (second right) and Chris Wilson (right) talk to Central Sulawesi conservation officials on Feb. 11 as they observe a crocodile that has been choked by a motorcycle tire for years in the Palu River in Central Sulawesi. (Antara/Mohamad Hamzah)

With a permit from the Indonesian government in hand, Australian TV presenter and crocodile expert Matthew Nicholas Wright returned to Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Tuesday to rescue a wild crocodile that has had a motorcycle tire caught around its neck for years. Together with fellow crocodile observer Chris Wilson, Wright set a trap on the Palu River on the first day of his attempt to catch the reptile where it lives.

The Australians flew from their outback to join a special rescue team formed by the Central Sulawesi Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Central Sulawesi) and the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

In an Instagram story on Tuesday, Wright, who has a show on the National Geographic TV channel called Outback Wrangler, was seen standing on the side of the Palu River while pointing at the 4-meter-long crocodile hiding behind a rock. He also joined the BKSDA team to finalize plans and prepare a wire trap and floating drums.

“Everything is looking very good here at the moment. The trap is coming together,” said Wright. “It has been a big day at the BKSDA. As we finish the trap, we’ll load it up to the river.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hey guys, just a quick update on the Michelin Croc in Indonesia!! 🇮🇩 🔘 We have been talking closely with Indonesian government officials in including the Ministry for Forestry and associated local organisations. Due to crocodile commitments in Northern Territory “Australia” I haven’t been able to get over to Jakarta this week but am flying over this Saturday to see how we can help and be of assistance. We’ll be able to develop a cracken plan over the coming week once we’ve seen what environmental challenges we have to over come in this area. I’m super excited to be working with the teams on the ground in Indonesia to safely catch this animal. Unfortunately, we have heard of a couple of rouge outfits who haven’t gone through the respectful and appropriate channels are already on location attempting to catch the crocodile without the proper permits or permission. This will taunt the croc making shy and harder for us get close to him, not to mention putting themselves and the village in danger with limited or no experience catching and handling these large reptiles reptiles. I know first hand how quickly things can turn bad with a 4m croc, fast flowing river and a small boat is not the ideal situation. Thankfully though the Indonesian government has acted swiftly and these teams have been arrested and removed. Once I arrive on Saturday, I will conduct further talks with the government and all organisations involved to ensure the safe capture and rescue of this animal and will keep you all up to date with the journey.

A post shared by Matt Wright (@mattwright) on

After first going to Palu on the weekend to scope out the river and his prey, Wright flew to Jakarta on Monday to meet and coordinate with Indonesian officials.

In Instagram posts earlier this month, Wright said he had been following the stories of this trapped crocodile for the past 18 months and had been trying his best to work out the best window of opportunity to go to Palu and help relieve the crocodile of his tight choker.

“We have been talking closely with Indonesian officials, including the Environment and Forestry Ministry and associated local organizations,” said Wright in his post. "We’ll be able to develop a cracking plan once we’ve seen what environmental challenges we have to overcome in this area."

The participation of the two Australians is based on a decree issued by the ministry on Monday to BKSDA Central Sulawesi, into whose operational control the crocodile rescue team has been entrusted.

“After consulting with the ministry’s biodiversity conservation directorate general, both of them were allowed to immediately join the rescue team,” Haruna, a BKSDA Central Sulawesi official, told reporters on Monday.

The trapped crocodile was first seen swimming with the tire around its neck in 2016. It was regularly spotted swimming in the waters of the Palu River and Palu Bay.

Officials and conservationists previously tried but failed to catch it. Locals believe the crocodile was frightened off because every time there was a rescue attempt, dozens of curious Palu residents swarmed around the river to watch.

In response, Wright said that any rescue spectators might put themselves in danger as they had limited or no experience catching and handling large reptiles.

“Unfortunately, we have heard a couple of rogue outfits who haven’t gone through the respectful and appropriate channels are already on location without permission,” said Wright. “Thankfully, the government has acted swiftly and these teams have been removed.” (syk)

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