The sighting of at least one crocodile in the Sagua River, located in the Holguin municipality of Sagua de Tánamo, led the local authorities of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) to issue a statement confirming that “it is about at least one adult specimen, which has not been possible to capture so far.”
“The area of the tributary that crosses the municipalities of Sagua de Tánamo and Frank País is far from the natural habitat of crocodiles and there are no breeding grounds in nearby places, therefore, the fact is related, presumably, to the illegal possession of species by individuals,” assured CITMA delegate Alejandro Torres Gómez de Cádiz to the Agencia Cubana de Noticias (ACN) news agency.
— Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (@citmacuba) October 31, 2021
Meanwhile, Juan Miranda, CITMA specialist in Sagua de Tánamo, told the press agency that they have already formed a group made up of specialists and fishermen with the purpose of monitoring the area where the sighting occurred, but that the current is cloudy due the rains in the mountainous area.
In the last two days this specimen of semi-aquatic reptile has not been seen again, according to Miranda, who argued that it was not possible to determine its species with the naked eye.
Some residents have expressed concern because it is an area frequented by bathers, although as a result of COVID-19 doing so has been prohibited for months, according to local sources. The authorities also pointed out that this fact had paralyzed fishing for eel, an “important exportable item.”
Torres Gómez de Cádiz indicated that, taking into account the Decree Law on Animal Welfare, the CITMA, together with the local authorities of Health and Fisheries Inspection, are assessing the risks that the presence of reptiles entails for nearby populations, as well as the alterations that it causes to the ecosystem. In the same way, they are also assessing the capture, classification, transfer and relocation actions.
After the sighting of the reptile, which several residents reported on social networks since last October 26, the regional director of the Office of Regulation and Environmental Safety had notified that there could be three specimens that were in that Sagua River area.
The Cuban Network of Science recalls that in Cuba there are two species of crocodiles, the Cuban (Crocodylus rhombifer) that lives in the Zapata and Lanier swamps, in Matanzas and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, respectively, as well as the American (Crocodylus acutus), declared in danger of extinction.
The Sagua River has its source in Guantánamo, from the confluence of the Bayate and Concepción rivers, and runs north for about 112 kilometers, the source said.