international crocodile rescue mission ended successfully today
at Sola on Vanua Lava when a 3.6 metre 300kg saltwater crocodile
was returned to his home in the Selva River.
is believed the crocodile was washed from Vanua Lava in a cyclone
in 1998 to Ambae and then was further pushed to Maewo in 2002.
For a year the villagers of Maewo have been afraid of the rogue
reptile as it cruised the western coast of the island.
the resources of the Vanuatu Environment Unit and Vanuatu Protected
Areas Initiative (VPAI), the services of Steve Irwin and his Australia
Zoo team were enlisted to help the crocodile.
Russell Nari, the Deputy Director of the Environment Unit, said
today, "Our main concern during this whole project has been
to maintain the well being of both the local people and the crocodile
and with today's successful capture and relocation, everybody
has been delighted with the result.
would like on behalf of the Environment Unit and the Government
of Vanuatu to extend our greatest gratitude to the chiefs and
people of Maewo, the Torba Provincial Council and chiefs and people
of Vanua Lava, Mr Roy Hills Director VPAI, Jamie Dillion Peace
Coprs Volunteer and above all Steve Irwin and team from Australia
Zoo for a great partnership in this rescue."
Roy Hills, Director of VPAI, said, "The estuarine crocodile
is an endangered species in Vanuatu and through the assistance
of Steve Irwin and his team, the people of Maewo no longer need
to be fearful of entering the sea and the crocodile has been saved
from certain death."
Steve Irwin, head of the Australia Zoo International Crocodile
Rescue Unit, despatched his senior crocodile experts Mr Brian
Coulter and Mr Toby Millyard in February 2003 to assess the problem.
With the aid of a specially designed and built crocodile trap,
he and his team were able to capture the reptile and, through
the help of VanAir, transport the animal from Maewo to Vanua Lava.
Irwin said, "I am so proud of the people of Vanuatu, particularly
of the islands of Maewo and Vanua Lava for being part of this
international conservation mission. The successful relocation
of the crocodile is the greatest message that we can give to the
world about the protection of an endangered species and, through
my television program, the whole world will learn how compassionate
the people of Vanuatu are in allowing the rescue operation to
take place and at the same time showcase the beauty of the islands.
I would like to thank Russell Nari and Roy Hills for making this
project run so smoothly and so successfully."