THE PHUKET GOVERNOR has threatened to take legal action against crocodile owners who fail to register their animals with the authorities by August 10.
Narapat Plodthong pointed out that only five owners had registered since the order went out amid the hunt for a crocodile on the loose among on the beaches and coastal waters of Phuket.
Narapat said legal action would be taken against those failing to report by the given deadline. The province has also instructed community heads to report any suspicious purchases of items such as fresh chicken carcasses and fish bones that could be used to feed captive crocodiles.
In return for such information aiding in the crackdown of illegal crocodile farms in the province, they would be rewarded, he said.
The governor’s threat followed the latest capture of a roaming croc, a one-and-a-half-metre specimen nabbed near Koh Kata off Layan Beach more than a week after it was first seen swimming close to Yanui Beach in the Rawai area.
The crocodile was netted early Sunday morning by a professional croc-hunting team from Surat Thani and a local fisherman, who snared it in a fishing net.
The animal was taken to the Phuket Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre in Pa Khlok.
Officials said its DNA would be checked to establish its breed, but their initial guess was that it was a saltwater crocodile kept in captivity. The presence of lichen on its skin suggested it had been raised in a pen built of moist cement blocks.
Narapat said the Fisheries Department would be contacted to help determine more about its background.It would then be relocated to a suitable habitat, he said.
A much larger crocodile given the name “Laypang” (Beast) was caught last August in an inland lake in the same area after being sighted swimming offshore.
Lessons learned from these incidents need to be taken seriously, said Narapat, including the need to locate captive crocodiles and prevent their escape, and to locate escaped crocs quickly.