Residents of Rantau Panjang village in Jujuhan district, Bungo regency in Jambi recently spotted a rare Senyulong crocodile in the Jujuhan River.
The villagers spotted the endangered animal in Lubuk Larangan, at a spot in the river where fish commonly gather, on Thursday. The local name for the animal is a fish crocodile because of its narrow, flat and long snout.
Rantau Panjang village chief Alfadol said the crocodile was 2-meters long. He said in the past, residents, who had never been threatened by the crocodiles, often saw Senyulong crocodiles in the river.
"However, after illegal gold mining became rampant in the upstream areas of the Jujuhan River, we rarely see them now," he said on Friday.
The residents discovered the crocodile when it was accidently caught in a net they were using to catch fish. Local customs only permit villagers to catch fish from the deepest depths of the river for special occasions such as Independence Day, which falls in August. The villagers immediately released the crocodile back into the river.
"The villagers never meant to disturb the crocodile's habitat," Alfadol added.
Senyulong crocodiles are one of seven crocodile species endemic to Indonesia and live in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java. The endangered species are a target of poachers. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) categorizes Senyulong crocodiles as Appendix I animals, meaning that they face imminent extinction unless the illegal trade in the animal is brought to an end.