(7 November) Officials in Phuket province continue to search for the crocodile reportedly seen swimming just off the shore of the popular resort island earlier this week.
Khaosod English has previously reported that a large crocodile was found swimming near Haad Mai Khao Beach in the southern province. However, some people claimed they had spotted two other crocodiles near Kata-Karon Beach and in Tai Mueang district, which locates in the neighbouring Phang-Nga province.
The rumour has caused concern among a number of tourists and business owners in the province, as Kata-Karon Beach is teemed with beachside hotels popular among many foreign tourists, our correspondent reported.
Mr. Prarop Pleang-Ngan, director of the provincial National Park agency, said that his teams had patrolled the area near Haad Mai Khao beach and Pru Je san with infrared camera to locate the crocodile. They had also tried to lure the creature using poultry as baits, but have not yet successfully found the reptile.
He expressed his opinion that the creature which was rumoured to be sighted near Kata Beach and in Tai Mueang district could be the same one previously found near Haad Mai Khao beach.
“Naturally, crocodiles prefer peaceful environment and it is unlikely that it will enter such busy area like Kata Beach” said Mr. Prarop, who indicated further that there has not been any clear evidence to confirm the presence of the crocodile in the sea near Kata Beach.
Nevertheless, search teams are planning to conduct an aerial inspection in Phang-Nga and Phuket to ensure that the crocodile is not causing any harm.
Mr. Thanet Mannoi, Director of Marine and Coastal Conservation Centre, said a recent notification from Tai Mueang district suggested that the crocodile might have travel up north to find shelter in the area, and said that it is very possible that the creature could be the same one found near Haad Mai Khao beach.
The authorities cannot yet confirm the species of the crocodile, but it is suspected that the creature could be a hybrid type that has escaped from one of the local farms, he said.
Reportedly, there is no crocodile farm in Phuket, while three owners are reported to possess crocodiles in the neighbouring province of Phang-Nga. One of the farmers further indicated that he owns 14 large crocodiles, and 25 small ones. Other two owners reported to the authorities each of them owns only one crocodile.
Two crocodiles have previously escaped the Phang-Nga farm, causing the authorities to shoot one dead and capture the other alive.
Meanwhile, Ms. Thanyarasmi Atchariyachai, a Phuket Senator, condemned those who had spread the rumour about three crocodiles roaming the seas in Phuket, as the rumour has harmed the province′s tourism industry in the seaside area, particularly at Kata-Karon beach.
“It is nearly impossible for the crocodile to travel from Haad Mai Khao to Kata” Ms. Thanyarasmi added, “the areas are quite far apart.”
Pol.Maj. Uranphon Khundechsamrit, a senior officer of Phuket tourism police, said his team had not been notified about the crocodile near Kata beach. However, he had instructed his team to assure the tourists of their safety in the area.
Mr. Maitree Intusud, Phuket Governor, also told our correspondent he had instructed officers to guard the seaside area, and to keep close watch over the spots they expected the crocodile would surface.
“So far, there has been no report about the crocodile, and the tourists were not panicked” said Mr. Maitree, “However, I’d like to ask the media to carefully report the news, as it might damage the provincial tourism industry in an inestimable degree.”
Mr. Tian Jai-Kla, the owner of a beach canvas bed stall in Karon beach, said that he had never seen any crocodile throughout his 10 years of doing the business at the site.
“I don’t think the creature would come close to such a busy area” said the businessman, who added the crocodile would have been spotted long ago by so many people in the area. “Moreover, teams of lifeguard are patrolling the area to assure the tourists of their safety.”
“I think the rumour is false”, Mr. Tian insisted.
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