Villagers in northern India were initially alarmed when they found a crocodile lurking in the local pond. But then they hatched a plan — to demand a ransom.
The two-metre (eight-foot) reptile from a nearby nature reserve turned up in the village of Midania in Uttar Pradesh after monsoon flooding on Tuesday, officials said.
Anil Patel, an official responsible for the buffer zone around the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve told AFP that the locals caught the croc and then demanded 50,000 Rupees (almost $700) to give it back.
“It took us hours to convince them with help from local police and authorities to release the crocodile,” Patel said.
The villagers were also threatened with legal action, with officials explaining that they risked being jailed for up to seven years.
The crocodile, Patel said, is free now. “We released it into the Ghagra river the same day.”
“They had no idea that the crocodile was a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Act. It’s important for us to educate more people about wildlife,” he added.
Recently, a crocodile was spotted on a highway in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri area. According to a report published in India TV, the 10-feet-long reptile was spotted by a group of villagers who were present around the area.
The locals then informed the forest officials who later rescued the wild animal and released it in a pond.
READ: Crocodile Casually Walks on Madhya Pradesh Highway, Video of Reptile’s Outing Goes Viral
The video of the incident has been shared on the microblogging site Twitter. In the video, one can see that the traffic is stalled as the giant animal is crossing the road. The reptile came out of the bushes. People present there were seen making videos and clicking pictures of the crocodile.
In another incident, wildlife rangers have trapped a 4.4-meter (14.5-foot) saltwater crocodile at a tourist destination in Australia’s Northern Territory, the biggest caught in the area in years, a wildlife ranger said Monday.
READ: Massive 770-pound Crocodile Caught at Tourist Destination in Australia
The 350-kilogram (770-pound) male was caught in the Flora River at a remote nature park 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of the Outback town of Katherine.