Crocodiles add to fishermen's problems

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
While mortar shells, mines and bullets make life miserable for the people in the Batticaloa District, fishermen in the area face an occupational hazard as well - killer crocodiles.

Kandiah Kumarasingham (30), was killed by a crocodile while he was out fishing in the Paddiruppu lagoon, near Kaluwanchikudy, 30 km south of Batticaloa yesterday, said sources in Batticaloa.

The crocodile menace is on the increase with Sri Lanka Army and the Special Task Force (STF) prohibiting small charges of dynamite being exploded along the lagoon to scare away the reptiles, Dr. S. Vasikaran, District Medical Officer (DMO) Kaluwanchikudy, told the TamilNet correspondent.

He said that there had been 15 victims admitted to Kaluwanchikudy hospital in the past few months, some of them losing their limbs in the attacks.

The corpse of Kumarasingham, who had gone fishing in a boat, was discovered by other fishermen later yesterday. It is believed he was dragged out of the boat by the crocodile and died either due to an excessive loss of blood from a gash where the reptile had held him, or by drowning, said sources.

Fishermen plying their trade in the waters of the Batticaloa lagoon too face the same problem.

In the past, crocodiles posing a threat to human life were either shot, or scared away by exploding charges of dynamite.

But this practice was discontinued about ten years ago, which led to the proliferation of these dangerous reptiles in the area.

Last year however, when officials of the Wild Life Department came to Batticaloa with dynamite to scare away the crocodiles from areas of the lagoon where fishing habitually takes place, they were debarred from bringing the dynamite into the area by the STF citing security reasons, said sources.

The problem has led to apprehension among fishermen who are reluctant to go fishing in the lagoon.

 

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