REPORT #147 Nov 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Should Belize save the Belize Crocodile? We have both the alligator and the crocodile in Belize?

It seems, that crocodiles, despite having a brain the size of an avocado seed and being a highly instinctive feeding machine, has something else going for it.

A crocodile is territorial and has a homesite. If you take it away from the homesite, it will come back. It has a homing instinct, superior to many other species.

Recently, in south Florida, a Crocodile, dubbed "Snaggletooth" some months back, that lived in the ponds of a golf course, about 75 miles north of here. Was trapped as it was scaring golfers. This fella is 150 pounds and quite easily could tear off your leg. Crocodiles take a bite and then spin their bodies like a corkscrew, to disorientate the victim and pull them under to drown. They can also climb over fences, porches, walls and run at 30 mph. for short distances. Now Snaggletooth is an eight footer and quite easily could do mayhem to some careless golfer trying to get his golf balls out of a pond water trap. Because there are a million or more alligators in Florida, there is a hunting season on alligators, but there are only a thousand or so crocodiles, so they are a Federally protected species. You cannot hunt or kill the crocodile but you can the alligator. Protecting the crocodile gene pool, so to speak.

Well, some months back on this east coast golf course, the animal wild life people trapped Snaggletooth and transported the crocodile all the way across the state to the Western side of Florida somewhere near Naples. About 250 miles away. Guess what!

Snaggletooth has just shown up on the golf course on the East coast again! Positive I.D. by photographs, scars and such. The wildlife guy says, the only thing the golf course people can do, is book a seat on a rocket out of Cape Canaveral and send the crocodile to the Moon. He can't do anything more!

How Snaggletooth got back home is a mystery. There are fences, cane farms, swamps, Everglades, highways and who knows what between here and Naples. Speculation is that "Snaggletooth" swam around the southern tip of Florida and up the inland waterway. "Sheesh! I swim in that sucker ('inland waterway') and cleaned my boat bottom for 2 hrs yesterday by snorkeling! You mean there are crocodiles in that water? Wow!" A distance of 700 miles or so, to get home to it's beloved golf course ponds.

Now, how does that relate to "protected areas" in Belize for crocodiles, manatees, mullet, conchs and a few other species? And what will the government do about protecting these many species that have recognizable homes? Development comes in many guises!

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