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Preventing crocodile attacks

30 June 2011

crocodile - webDGFC and Wildlife Rescue Unit staff pulling Girang back to the beach after fitting him with the satellite tag

A new collaborative project involving researchers from the University’s Field Centre in Malaysia is helping to explain and resolve the problem of increased crocodile attacks on humans in Borneo.

A team from the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department, recently fitted a four-metre-long male crocodile with a satellite tag so that its movements can be monitored. The saltwater crocodile – named Girang – is the first in Borneo, and possibly in South-East Asia, to be captured and tagged.

Dr Benoit Goossens, School of Biosciences and Director of the DGFC, explained: "The use of land for plantations here has considerably decreased the amounts of prey available for crocodiles. This makes for a far more dangerous environment and attack rates on humans near plantations are extremely high compared to those in forested areas.

By tagging large crocodiles, especially males which are potentially man-eaters, in plantation areas and forested areas, we will try to understand the movements of these large predators."

This marks the beginning of a long-term research and conservation programme, initiated following last year’s Human-Crocodile Conflict Conference in Kota Kinabalu.

Dr Goossens, who is also leader of the Kinabatangan Crocodile Programme, said: "We’re hoping to reduce fatal attacks by using our results as the basis of guidelines for plantation workers and local villagers. Our results can also contribute to the protection of the species which will benefit the local ecosystem , as well as tourism."

Danau Girang Field Centre is a collaborative research and training facility managed by Cardiff University and Sabah Wildlife Department. Funding from Cardiff allowed the establishment of a research laboratory, a computer room, a library, the acquisition of research equipment and the employment of a Director.

It is situated in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia and is surrounded by a mixture of lowland dipterocarp forest types, ranging from primary forest to disturbed secondary forest, in a matrix landscape with significant human impact including villages, small scale agriculture and oil palm plantations.

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