Phuket Gazette

BANGKOK: Thai authorities yesterday stepped up their hunt for about 10 fully-grown saltwater crocodiles that have been on the lam since escaping from a farm in flash floods last week. Four of the reptiles, measuring three to four meters in length, have already been captured near the Million Years Crocodile Farm, about 175 kilometers east of Bangkok. Another two reptiles were spotted yesterday but they managed to evade their pursuers, who were hampered by the continuing heavy rain. Flash floods tore a hole in the wall of the farm on Thursday, allowing some of the 2,000 crocodiles living in a pool next to the damaged wall to escape. The farm’s director, Suan Panomwattanakul, said five teams of experts had been deployed to capture the stray crocs, which come from a population of more than 10,000 in captivity at the farm. Provincial authorities have mobilized extra men to hunt for the rest of the crocodiles still on the loose, and warned local residents to be on the lookout for the fugitives. “I have given full authority to provincial officials to hunt down the crocodiles and, if necessary, to shoot them to stop them from escaping,” Suan said. Local residents have been briefed on the situation, he said, adding that he thought about 10 crocodiles were still at large. Amid concerns that some of the animals may have slipped into the sea since the “great escape” on Thursday, local officials have put up nets along waterways leading into the ocean.

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