ECONOMYNEXT – A saltwater crocodile that attacked a man in the sea off, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday (04) was spotted next morning in the Wellawatta Canal a few kilometers away, the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department said.
“This was a saltwater crocodile residing in the lagoon and marshy areas between Panadura and Wellawatta. It was using the sea as a crossing point from one destination to another, when the incident occurred,” an official said.
Investigations are under way and the wildlife department has deployed teams that are currently on standby in the event the croc is spotted again, the official said.
“Saltwater crocodiles are one of the most dangerous predators on the planet and can grow up to 20 feet long. We estimate this crocodile to be around 14 to 15 feet.”
The Sri Lanka Police Media Division stated that the victim, 57-year-old Kirulaponage Somasiri Jayantha, a resident of the Araliya Housing Scheme in Ratmalana, was diving for fish when the incident took place.
He had succumbed to his injuries before being admitted to the Kalubowila Hospital, where the official cause of death was ruled as drowning.
High profile crocodile attacks in the past few years include the death of British journalist Paul McClean (24) who was dragged into a river while on holiday in Arugambay in 2017, and the death of a police officer who was attacked by a crocodile in the Nilwala River in 2020.
Sri Lanka is home to two species of crocodile, saltwater and freshwater (mugger crocodile). Though there are around 2,500 to 3,500 saltwater crocodiles in the island, according to the wildlife department, attacks are very rare, in spite of recent rise in incidents around the Nilwala area.
“This is an extremely unfortunate occurrence, but not something that happens often, or can be predicted. We urge the public to be cautious around wildlife, but of course unprecedented events like this do happen, and there is very little we can do about it,” the wildlife official said.
Attacks are so rare that statistic for fatalities per year are hard to come by, the official further said, adding that the Nilwala incidents were outliers in a way. (Colombo/Jan05/2021)