Rabaul search team goes after crocodiles

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A CROCODILE-hunting team commenced a six-day programme this week to capture crocodiles in East New Britain’s Rabaul district waters.
The team is made up of district and provincial officers, headed by crocodile specialist Luke Waipo and professional crocodile hunter Ben Ambu.
The team was set up after a crocodile attacked a Matupit islander last month.
The victim was wounded under his left chest while swimming at his village beachfront between 8pm and 9pm on January 10.
He narrowly escaped death and was treated at the Nonga Base Hospital for injuries sustained from the attack.
The hunting team will conduct a search-and-kill operation to include day-time investigations for crocodile tracks, setting up traps in the afternoons and the hunt-and-kill in the nights.
The aim of the programme, according to Waipo, would be to kill and remove animals that were a threat to humans and  to survey breeding grounds in the area.
Waipo said possible crocodile sites were the foot coastlines of the Vulcan and Matupit volcanoes, Malaguna, Rapolo, Valaur, Karavia and Matupit villages while other areas were Karavia and Vulcan Swamp and lake areas and Matupit’s Sulphur Creek.
Waipo also said the team would also conduct awareness on the importance of crocodiles and their history in the province.
During a briefing, Waipo informed the team that crocodiles had been in the province long before the World wars and colonial times.
He said there was a high population of crocodiles in the province but but many had been shot.
Prior to independence,  the Crocodile Management and Protection Act was established by the national government and controls and prohibits the use of firearms to kill crocodiles.
Waipo said this prevented the killing of young as well as mature crocodiles that laid eggs in their natural habitat.
The district crocodile hunting team began awareness on Matupit Island and areas along the the Simpson Harbour coastline warning people not to venture out into sea.