A mob of angry villagers has killed hundreds of protected crocodiles in Indonesia’s far-eastern province of West Papua in what appears to be a retaliatory attack after a person was killed by one of the reptiles.
Police and officials say they were unable to stop the massacre and may press charges against attackers, the BBC reports. Killing a protected species in Indonesia is a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Officials say on Friday morning, a local man named Sugitno was trespassing in a crocodile breeding sanctuary owned by PT Mitra Lestari Abadi (MLA) to pick up some vegetables. He was then attacked and killed by crocodiles in the sanctuary.
“An employee heard someone screaming for help, quickly went there and saw a crocodile attacking someone,” said the head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in West Papua, according to the BBC.
On Saturday, after Sugitno’s funeral, a mob of around 400 locals carrying sharp weapons, shovels and blocks of wood raided MLA’s office and the crocodile sanctuary.
According to local media, all 292 of the sanctuary’s crocodiles were slaughtered. The site is a licensed operation that breeds protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles for preservation and harvest.
Photo courtesy of West Papua Police/Coconuts