Wildlife officials in Odisha’s Malkangiri district have launched a manhunt to arrest villagers who killed a 10-feet long freshwater crocodile, hung it from a tree and later ate the animal’s meat.
Malkangiri divisional forest officer Pradeep Devidas Mirase said a case has been filed against unknown persons and three teams have been formed to arrest unknown villagers in Kaladapalli under Podia block of the district, after photos of the crocodile being hung from a tree emerged on social media. The villagers reportedly caught the crocodile from the Saveri river on Tuesday and tied it to a tamarind tree before taking selfies with it. Afterwards, they cut it into pieces and distributed the meat among themselves.
“I was shocked when I first heard about it. This was never heard of earlier in Malkangiri,” Mirase told the Hindustan Times. “Our teams have so far been unlucky in recovering any of the parts of the crocodile. We are trying to locate the people who are seen posing alongside the crocodile carcass.”
Sources said the villagers reportedly caught the crocodile after several domestic animals like cows and goats went missing near the river. The villagers suspected that a crocodile was behind the killings.
The freshwater crocodile, one of the three varieties of crocodiles that includes esturine crocodiles and gharials found in India, is protected under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as their skins are traded heavily.