A number of crocodile attacks in recent months have prompted calls in the media to lift the country’s ban on exporting crocodile skins.
Proponents argue that would create an incentive for people to kill crocodiles and reduce the number of crocodile attacks as a result.
But Edward Honiwala, director of fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, said lifting the longtime ban on exporting crocodile skins could be a long process.
The trade of saltwater crocodiles is currently banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Deputy Director of the Environment and Conservation Division in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology Joe Hurutarau said fisheries regulations also prevent the export of crocodile skins.
“Exporting crocodiles is regulated under the Fisheries Act, and that is a current regulation, so we cannot export them,” he said.
But as crocodiles continue to be a concern for many citizens, Mr Hurutarau’s division has secured funding from the Asian Development Bank to conduct a crocodile population study in the country.
The study, proposed last year, is intended to gather information on the incidence of crocodile attacks.
“Basically we are looking at doing a population study and outreach to communities with awareness and safety messages so that they know what to do if crocodile attacks increase around their area or if there are crocodile sightings in the area where they live,” he said.
By Charlie Salini and Henry Oritaimae