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Insight into human-crocodile conflicts via satellite tagging
KINABATANGAN: A satellite tagging project has been started, to tag selected male crocodiles in 10 main rivers of Sabah, as part of an on-going project to gain insight into human-crocodile conflicts.
So far, two Kinabatangan river crocodiles have been tagged by the Sabah Wildlife Department, through its Wildlife Rescue Unit and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), the latest being a 3.6 metre saltwater crocodile named Lais, on January 27.
DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said most human-crocodile conflicts involved large males of the species.
By tagging these animals, long term seasonal movements can be established, which would then help determine how lack of food may be forcing them to consider humans as a source of protein, he added.
"We plan to focus on 10 main rivers in Sabah and fit satellite tags on the male crocodiles in each of these rivers.
"We will also carry out surveys and collect samples to identify patterns of gene flow between the rivers and also to get an overall picture of fertility within the population," said Goossens who is also leader of the Kinabatangan Crocodile Programme, in a Press release issued today.
The 10 rivers are Klias, Padas, Paitan, Sugud, Labuk, Kinabatangan, Segama, Kalumpang, Kalabakan and Serudon, with emphasis on two rivers with different degrees of human pressure -- the Kinabatangan and Paitan.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu attributed the recent successful tagging of the crocodile in the Kinabatangan river to both the Wildlife Rescue Unit and DGFC's hard work.
Ambu said the Wildlife Rescue Unit, funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Le Meridien Hotel, has been extremely active since its creation.
DGFC Manager Mark Rampangajouw said a camera set up in the cage had allowed the project team to catch good shots of the crocodile as it took the bait and moved into the trap.
The satellite tagging project is currently funded by the Chester Zoo in Chestershire, UK and DGFC. -- BERNAMA