After the horrible crocodile attack Friday in the Tamarindo river mouth there have been lots of questions about how to prevent further attacks.
We interviewed Brandon Sideleau of CrocBITE, the worldwide crocodilian attack database, to get more answers on why crocodiles attack humans and how to prevent future attacks in Costa Rica.
Weekly Crawler: Give our readers some history on crocodile attacks in Costa Rica.
The feeding of crocodiles appears to be one of the biggest issues increasing crocodile attacks in Latin America. Even the largest crocodilian species in the New World do not (usually) look at humans as prey items (this is in contrast to the Old World, where 3 species view humans as prey items).
Many of the areas of Latin America where crocodile attacks have become common have some sort of feeding involved- be it directly (feeding for tourists or as a “wild” pet) or indirectly (scraps being dumped into the water, which attracts crocodiles). Thankfully fatal attacks are fairly rare…only a handful occur every year, but non-fatal attacks are becoming more common in some areas.
For example, in Costa Rica there have been 33 attacks recorded since 2007 of which 9 resulted in the death of the victim. Mexico, on the other hand, experienced 113 attacks resulting in 16 deaths over the same period.
I think the best way to decrease the frequency of crocodile attacks in Costa Rica is to make localized efforts to end the illegal feeding of crocodiles and promote crocodile safety education throughout the country.
Weekly Crawler: When do most crocodile attacks occur?
CrocBITE: Crocodile attacks are most common during the wet season, with very few attacks occurring during the dry season (although this does not mean crocodiles are not dangerous during the dry season). This is because crocodiles are more active during the warmer months, which also coincide with the breeding, egg laying and hatching seasons (in Central America, this means the Morelet’s crocodile and the American crocodile) so in addition to being more active they are also more territorial. The wet season is typically the most dangerous time of year for crocodile attacks worldwide. The same is true for Australia, India, Indonesia, etc.
Weekly Crawler: Are there places in the world where crocodile attacks occur year round?
CrocBITE: The only areas where attacks are frequent year round are the areas directly on or very close to the equator (Borneo, for example).
Weekly Crawler: Any other advice you have to prevent crocodile attacks in the future?
CrocBITE: Lastly and most importantly, never feed wild crocodiles.