Nile crocodile gets new home in Niassa Reserve
A new home for a large guest
Many locals already knew about a large Nile crocodile living in the swamps near the Afungi-Palma road in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. The presence of this magnificent reptile in its natural habitat was something quite unique.
As development of the Mozambique LNG Project continued in the region, however, it became clear that its presence could lead to several challenges. As a result, Total’s environmental experts, working in collaboration with local authorities, recommended that the 2.5-metre long, 48-kg heavy crocodile be removed from the Afungi-Palma swamp and relocated to another natural habitat.
Preparing for a safe capture
Total’s specialists are aware of the need to reduce potential human-animal conflict and they work to ensure conservation of wildlife species potentially impacted by the Mozambique LNG Project. In partnership with the government, they run initiatives aimed at preserving biodiversity in the region.
Fully grown Nile crocodiles can weigh up to 700 kg and measure up to 6 metres in length, and this Afungi resident needed to have a suitable habitat to support its natural development. The Lugenda River in the Niassa Special Reserve was chosen as the male crocodile’s new home.
Relocations of wildlife are commonplace in other regions, and the relocation team worked to ensure the entire process was carried out according to the highest international standards. In this case, the process was planned to comply with the Queensland Code of Good Practice for Crocodile Handling, which provides guidance on transporting crocodiles. Risk factors for successful relocation include long periods in a transport box, rough roads, vibrations and dehydration.
All the necessary licenses were obtained from local authorities for the capture, transport and delivery of the crocodile. In addition, the government, through ANAC – the National Conservation Areas Administration – consulted with the communities along the Lugenda River.
Successful transportation operation
In early January 2021, special air transport was arranged and the majestic reptile was flown to the city of Pemba in a specially constructed transport box. Once safely delivered to the authorities in the Niassa Special Reserve, it was released into its new home in the Lugenda River on the morning of January 6, after the final release license was obtained from ANAC.
Released into the Lugenda River
Tracking the crocodile's movements
As part of the relocation, a satellite tracking device was attached to the Nile crocodile. This device provides data on its movements, transmitting its location every three hours.
The relocation team is delighted to see that, since its release, the crocodile has travelled almost 100km downstream. Assisted by high, wet-season water levels, it has recently reached the confluence of the Lugenda and Rovuma rivers.