In a gruelling seven-hour long rescue operation, members of an NGO managed to catch a 4.4-foot long crocodile stuck in a drain near a construction site in the residential area of Yogi Hills in Mulund in the wee hours of Monday.
Late on Sunday afternoon, members of NGO Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW) received a distress call on their helpline from residents of Yogi Hill about a crocodile sighting in a drain near a construction site next to their building. "Our members who reached the site found that there was no outlet to the drain that could ensure the reptile's return to its natural habitat. We decided to rescue it and ensure it does not move to other residential areas via drains. The forest department was alerted immediately," informed Pawan Sharma, Honorary Wildlife Warden for Thane and Founder and President, RAWW.
The reptile was found in a five-foot deep pit full of water which was connected to a drain. With the construction site's labour camp closeby, it could have led to an incident of human-animal conflict. "Our team first surveyed the area to check for all the possible escape routes for the reptile and secured it. Then a 15-member team of wildlife rescuers from RAWW and the Mumbai Range of Forest Department began the rescue operation," said Sharma.
The rescue efforts went on till 1 am on Monday. "After we changed the location of the nets for the fourth time, the crocodile finally entered the net and was safely removed out of the pit," said Dhairya Gada, member of RAWW. After the reptile was settled, it was taken to wildlife veterinarian Dr Rina Dev for a medical examination.
Forest officials were surprised that the reptile was found so close to human habitat and water. "It could have entered the drain from the forest area as it is very close or there are chances that it could have been living in some of these drains for quite sometime. Since the reptile was declared medically fit it has been released back in its natural habitat on Monday," said a senior forest official from the Mumbai range.