An American crocodile was taken into custody last week after being found wandering the streets in the San Juan area.Â Not normally a risk to humans who do not interfere with them, these endangered animals are sadly at risk from humans.Â This one had a machete wound to his right hind leg and needed emergency surgery.
American crocodiles are a day-to-day part of living in Belize, and a celebrated one, as it is the last country in the world where they maintain a healthy breeding population.Â Some residents, however, get a little too friendly with them, and this encounter is a reminder of the importance of treating wild animals with respect and caution.
Feeding the crocodiles can lead to them losing their fear of humans, which makes it difficult to keep them out of settled areas.Â Failing to dispose of trash properly can also lead to problems as they can learn to lurk around bins in the hope of catching raccoons and rats, and this can present a danger to pets.
Under normal circumstances the crocodiles on Ambergris Caye keep their distance from humans and do not bother pets.Â ItÂs a good idea to keep dogs away from the shoreline in the evenings and early mornings but otherwise thereÂs no need to worry, and many people delight in seeing these exotic animals at large in the landscape Â theyÂre part of what gives living in Belize its charm.Â On the rare occasions that conflict occurs, the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES), supported by Brigitte Bardot, is ready to help.
When the San Juan crocodile was found, ACES were able to take it off the streets and bring in a specialist veterinarian to treat it.Â Its wound has now been stitched back together and its leg encased in a cast that will prevent it from moving while it heals.Â It will be kept in captivity during the recuperation process but may be well enough to return to the wild in just over a month.Â It is uncertain, however, if it will ever be able to use its leg normally again.
The exotic wildlife of Ambergris Caye Island makes this a special place for tourists and residents alike, and is one of the many reasons why so many people end up settling here.