Friends of the Earth Malaysia responds to West Papua crocodile massacre


Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM), an environmental NGO in Penang, Malaysia, expresses shock and horror at the massacre of nearly 300 crocodiles in Indonesia’s West Papua province.

The July 14th massacre occurred following the funeral of a man who was killed by crocodiles when he entered the area around their breeding pond. A mob responded by entering the farm, established to breed a protected species of crocodile, and killing almost 300 crocodiles of varying ages and sizes.

The loss of a human life is most devastating, but crocodiles cannot be blamed for following their natural instincts and killing whatever “prey” has entered their habitat.

Most humans’ understanding of crocodiles is limited and inaccurate. Crocodiles are often perceived as monsters because of their scaly, slithering form. What is most appalling is the crocodile’s reputation as a man eater. Normally rare, crocodile attacks on humans are related to territory defense, protection of their young, or accidental or intentional provocation by humans. Mankind’s overwhelming response to crocodiles has been unreasonable and repugnant. 

Widespread ill-feeling toward these creatures has erupted into serious consequences in Malaysia, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of many crocodiles, who are not at fault. Crocodiles are subjected to abhorrent treatment by mobs, whose only intention is to annihilate the creatures out of severe hatred. This appalling and immoral behavior is nothing but a violent slaughter, motivated by the pursuit of glory and revenge.

These animal abusers are a danger to everyone. They take out their issues on humans and non-humans alike and must be stopped before they act again.

We believe that humans’ position on top of nature’s hierarchy should make them the protectors of wildlife and all animals, not their destroyers. FOEM totally concurs with Basar Manullang, the head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency, who stated that crocodiles are God’s creatures, and thus need to be protected.

The local communities enacting this violence should not set the killing of crocodiles as a precedent for others to emulate. This is a dangerous trend. For example, if a tiger or other endangered species were to maul someone to death, would all members of that particular species be killed in this atrocious manner as well?

Further, what they have done is totally against the law. It is time that police and the Conservation Agency work together to establish who is responsible for initiating this mob rampage and senseless killing. These crocodiles are a protected species in Indonesia, so why is the Ministry of Environment and Forestry keeping mum over this issue? Like any protected species, crocodiles should be accorded conservation under Indonesian law.

The only effective way to do away with such merciless and unjustified killing is for perpetrators to be prosecuted and jailed. That is precisely what FOEM expects the judiciary to do. We urge the authorities to not take a lenient view of perpetrators who commit crimes of violence, for this should be the last such case.

S M Mohd Idris
Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM)

Featured Image: Siamese Crocodile, a species native to Southeast Asia. Image credit: Heather Paul, CC BY-SA 3.0

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