BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 26, 2018– Amidst the many trials and turmoil that continue to beset Belize’s social and political economy, the disappearance of a crocodile may seem a trivial item to be bubbling up from amongst the many concerns of residents, but it is the topic of conversation out there on La Isla Cariñosa, or as it is officially known, Caye Caulker.
Reports are that a crew reportedly sailed to The Estuary at the North Shore of Caye Caulker Friday evening and allegedly kidnapped a pregnant crocodile affectionately known as “Scarlett”, from her nest where she has sojourned the last decade or so. It is being bruited that the bandits are Forestry Department officers led by members of the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC), a Belize-based NGO that was established in January 2016. According to its website, CRC “… seeks to preserve crocodiles and their environments throughout Central America and the Caribbean to ensure the long-term sustainability of biodiversity in the region”.
The problem here is that it seems the wrong croc was kidnapped, and CRC and the Forestry Department will not say where Scarlett was taken. Scuttlebutt has it that she has been sent to be housed at the Belize Zoo.
Locals believe that CRC was acting on behalf of Frontera, another conservation group that occupies a cabin on the island’s northern 200-acre conservation park, who reportedly lost a dog to a croc the week before. But the owners and operators of The Estuary are adamant that Scarlett, whom they describe as an “island tame croc ready to nest by March 22”, neither left the Estuary nor stole any dog.
They maintain that she was getting ready to nest and complete her gestation at the same location where she has been living for many, many years. It is a completely unique situation, they fume, and they have had biologists studying her for the last three years.
They insist that they have had signs posted at The Estuary, the trails of which are fast becoming a popular tourist attraction, not to feed the crocs.
There is an undercurrent of frustration among many with the at times high-handed, police-like tactics of some environmental conservation outfits, who are mostly led and operated by foreigners. For the operators of The Estuary who were the victims of a trespass, and who have a broken gate and a missing pet croc as evidence of that, it is simply too much.