BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
MINISTRY of Environment has joined forces with the WorldFish in an effort to ‘reduce conflict between humans and crocodiles in Solomon Islands’ in a Crocodile Management Project.
Yesterday, there was a meeting on National Saltwater Crocodile Survey which convened IUCN Crocodile specialist from Australia Dr Matthew Brien and participants from WorldFish, Police and representative from communities.
During the workshop, facilitators from the Ministry of Environment Climate Change Disaster Management and Meteorology and WorldFish presented a survey collected on seven provinces about crocodile population and killings.
The data collected shows that crocodile population is increasing in Solomon Islands after the ban to kill and export since 1989 with conflicts between humans are high.
Providing the survey is important for Solomon Islands Government’s decision to minimise conflicts between humans and crocodile and the need for crocodile management in Solomon Islands.
Scientist from the WorldFish Solomon Islands Jan Van Der Ploeg said they are working on developing a national saltwater crocodile management plan.
Activities they engaged on at this stage are collecting information on saltwater crocodile population, human-crocodile conflict and custom, he said.
Mr Jan also adds the project look at raising awareness of the dangers of the living in crocodile habitat and also providing technical support to MECDM, MFMR and RSIPF in designing of national management plan.
Mr Jan further adds that there is only one species of crocodile found in Solomon Islands, and that is saltwater crocodile, not the alligators or freshwater crocodile.
Deputy Vice Chair for Oceania IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group Dr Matthew Brien shared an important message saying saltwater crocodile is very dangerous especially to people in Solomon Islands.
He said it is important to prioritise people first when it comes to conservation.
“The only way you can have conservation is that if you can minimize risk to people, so people need to come first because if they don’t then crocodile can get shot,” he said.
He said it is important people can find ways to live with crocodiles which requires good management so that animals pose threat is taken out.
With that good education is one area required purposely to talk to people about how to be safer in water and understand saltwater crocodiles can travel very far distance, he said.
Meanwhile, the Crocodile Management Project is funded Asia Development Bank and facilitated by MECDM, MFMR and WorldFish Solomon Islands.
Previous years, saltwater crocodiles have takeaway lives and living many to injuries.