Crocodile spotted at East Coast Park caught and relocated by authorities

SINGAPORE – A crocodile spotted by anglers at East Coast Park on Tuesday (Oct 5) has been caught and relocated.

Estimated to be under 1.2m in length, it was filmed swimming in a drain near Fort Road. The clip was shared on Facebook group Singapore Wildlife Sightings and has gained more than 1,000 responses.

The Straits Times has reached out to the National Parks Board (NParks) for comment.

Ms Kate Pocklington, senior conservator at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, said the crocodile was caught and relocated by the authorities.

She added that the last recorded sighting of a crocodile at East Coast Park was in 2017.

The 34-year-old, who authored the book Beast, Guardian, Island: The Saltwater Crocodile In Singapore, said: “Estuarine crocodiles prefer mangroves and are mostly seen in Sungei Buloh.

“They are able to swim in both fresh and salt water so (they) have sometimes been found in other places across the island.”

As apex predators, these creatures indicate that an area has a rich biodiversity that can sustain them, she added, noting that the earliest records of estuarine crocodiles in Singapore date back to the 1800s.

Mr Law Ing Sind, co-founder of the Herpetological Society of Singapore which studies reptiles and amphibians, said sightings of the creature outside of Sungei Buloh are usually sporadic but have been confirmed in Changi, Pasir Ris and Sembawang.

These are likely to be displaced individuals, which do not stay long in the area, he added.

Mr Law said: “Saltwater crocodiles are usually restricted to Sungei Buloh where there are large tracts of mangrove forest, which provide a large prey base in the form of fishes to sustain a resident population.”

A crocodile of the size in the video would indicate that it is a juvenile and that the population in Singapore is most likely breeding and reproducing here, he added.

“This is actually good news, as this species is regarded as critically endangered locally.”

It is not the first time that the authorities have captured a crocodile.

On Feb 23, 2019, NParks and national water agency PUB caught a 1.7m-long crocodile in Lower Seletar Reservoir and relocated it into the wild, days after water and fishing activities there were suspended after the animal was sighted in the water.

NParks says on its website that members of the public are advised to stay calm and back away when they encounter a crocodile.

They are encouraged not to approach, provoke or feed the animal.

Said Ms Pocklington: “People shouldn’t be scared because, like any animal, they are fine if members of the public leave them alone.”

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