Pasir Ris crocodile caught on fishing line


Desmond Ng, The New Paper 20 Aug 08;

SEEING is believing.

Especially for Mr Muhd Rizhal Senin, who loves to swim in the cool waters of Sungei Tampines off Pasir Ris beach.

For the last five years, he has been brushing off talk from others that there were crocodiles spotted in that area.

Not even the recent sighting - which was captured in a photo and inspired a hunt by the authorities - rattled him.

That was until early Sunday morning - when one appeared right before his eyes.

Mr Rizhal was riding his mountain bike home in the wee hours of the morning from Pasir Ris beach when he spotted some of his friends struggling with an animal on the boardwalk over Sungei Tampines, near the beach.

1m long

The 30-year-old decided to check it out and, to his surprise, it was a metre-long crocodile caught on a line by two anglers.

Mr Rizhal said: 'Both of them were struggling with the crocodile and trying to hold it down. I tried to help, even though I was quite afraid. We used scotch-tape and some rope to tie up the crocodile's mouth and feet.

'The skin was quite rough and felt quite strange.'

Even though it looked small, the men believe that this was the same crocodile spotted by retiree Mr Ong Wee Lee two weeks ago at a mangrove swamp near Pasir Ris beach.

Mr Ong's daughter took a photo of it and the reptile quickly crawled back into the water when the camera flash went off.

The sighting of this crocodile sparked off a hunt, albeit an unsuccessful one, by national water agency PUB and the National Parks Board then.

Mr Rizhal said he called the police, who took the tied-up crocodile away.

He added that one of his friends had accidentally snared the crocodile by the leg while reeling his line in.

They were there to catch seabass, garoupas and tilapia fish, and hauling in a crocodile was definitely not what they had expected.

Mr Rizhal said: 'They (his friends) were so shocked that I had to call the police for them. For a while, they just sat on the ground, stunned.'

His friends couldn't be contacted for an interview.

It is not difficult to see why the crocodile will make that swamp home - it was teeming with schools of tilapia fish when The New Paper was there yesterday afternoon.

For Mr Rizhal, the sight of the crocodile there meant only one thing - the end of his weekly swim in that swamp.

He had always disregarded anglers there who warned him about crocodiles.

Mr Rizhal, who is married with three children aged 2 to 6, also picks mussels in the swamp to sell or to eat.

He said: 'After seeing the crocodile, I am not going to swim here anymore. I don't think it's safe and I don't want to risk my life.'

One angler, who wanted to be known only as Imran, said he has not seen crocodiles there before.

'But I am not taking any chances too. I will just fish from the bridge. And no way am I going to swim in these waters,' he said.

The police confirmed that a crocodile was handed to them on Sunday morning.

They said that the crocodile has been transferred to a private company that deals with such animals.

The public can call the PUB 24-hour hotline at 1800-284-6600 if they spot crocodiles in rivers or reservoirs.

And the catch of the day is... a crocodile
Ang Yiying, Straits Times 20 Aug 08;

AN ANGLER fishing at Pasir Ris Park over the weekend snared an unexpected catch: a metre-long crocodile, believed to be the same reptile first spotted in the Tampines River canal over three weeks ago.
The crocodile was turned on its back after being caught and tied up with rope, so that it could not escape. It also had its mouth taped. -- PHOTO: MUHD RIZHAL SENIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The unidentified man was fishing off a bridge at the same canal at about 3.30am on Sunday, when his line hooked the leg of the animal.

He reeled it in, and his friend shone a torchlight at it before they realised it was a crocodile staring back.

He lifted the crocodile onto the bridge and turned it on its back to stop it from escaping. When they were taping the crocodile's mouth with scotch tape and tying it up with rope, they called over another regular park-goer, Mr Muhd Rizhal Senin, 30, who happened to be passing by.

Mr Rizhal recounted the two men's experience to The Straits Times.

He said: 'They were shocked for a while because it's an unexpected catch. But they're also happy to have caught the crocodile.'

The sight of the three men and the crocodile caused a stir in the quiet park. Curious students and foreign workers wandered over, snapping photos and filming videos of the snared reptile.

Mr Rizhal then called the police, who took the reptile away.

It is believed to have been turned over to the Singapore Zoo. Mr Biswajit Guha, its assistant director of zoology, confirmed that the zoo received a 1m-long crocodile yesterday.

Park regular Ong Wee Lee, 70, had first spotted a crocodile in July in the mangrove swamp near the Tampines River canal in the park. His daughter took a snapshot of it earlier this month, and the reptile made headlines in local media.

Speaking in Mandarin, he said: 'It's very lucky that they caught the crocodile. It is very hard to catch...If it had remained in the canal, someone could have been bitten.'