Officials and villagers in Indonesia reported Tuesday that a wild crocodile that had been caught in a tyre for more than five years has been rescued, liberated from its rubber prison, and released back into the wild.
Since residents of Palu city on Sulawesi island noticed the injured saltwater crocodile with a motorbike tyre wrapped around its neck in 2016, conservationists have been attempting to coax the animal from a river.
The 5.2-metre (17-foot) long lizard, which was routinely spotted sunning in the Palu river in Central Sulawesi, was finally rescued late Monday by a local resident.
Tili, a 34-year-old bird trader, caught the crocodile with chicken as bait and ropes at the conclusion of a three-week rescue attempt, before scores of people assisted in dragging the crocodile to shore and cutting the tyre around its neck.
“I just wanted to assist because I despise seeing animals caged and suffering,” Tili, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, told AFP.
He stated his first two attempts to save the croc failed because the ropes were too weak to handle the croc’s weight, so he switched to nylon ropes used for hauling boats.
“I was already spent, so I let them finish the rescue; the crocodile was enormous, and everyone was sweating and drained.”
The crocodile was promptly put back into the river following the rescue, prompting relief cheers from the crowd.
Conservationists suspect the tyre was wrapped around the croc’s neck on purpose in an unsuccessful attempt to capture it as a pet in the archipelago nation, which is home to multiple species of the animal.
Tili outsmarted the authorities since they lacked the necessary equipment for a rescue in the river, which is home to more than 30 crocodiles.
Hasmuni Hasmar, the chairman of the local conservation organization, told AFP, “Yesterday was a momentous day for us; we are pleased the crocodile was eventually saved, and we applaud the villagers who showed care for the animals.”
The croc made news in early 2020 when the local government offered a reward to anybody who caught it and removed the tyre, but the contest was eventually canceled due to concerns that it may threaten the reptile’s safety.
Tili, on the other hand, is in line for a reward when his risky idea paid off, according to the local conservation agency.
“We will honor Tili for his efforts in wildlife rescue,” Hasmar stated.