Friday, November 24, 2023

In the absence of people, crocodiles take over Oaxaca beaches

The crocodiles of La Ventanilla, Oaxaca, have taken to the beach for the first time in decades in the absence of human activity during the Covid-19 emergency.

The popular ecotourism destination is home to a lagoon in which the crocodiles normally spend most of their time, avoiding visitors who come from nearby Mazunte, Zipolite, Puerto Escondido and other destinations to snap photos of them from tour boats.

But when the tourists are away, the crocs will play, and a photo of five large reptiles enjoying the otherwise empty beach made the rounds on social media on Sunday.

The federal government closed all Mexico’s beaches in early April to prevent people from gathering in groups and further spreading the coronavirus. Since then there have been a number of observations of wildlife reclaiming spaces they previously avoided due to human presence.

Fishermen and Civil Protection agents from nearby Santa María Colotepec captured a crocodile in a lagoon adjacent to the popular tourist and surfer destination Puerto Escondido in March. The animal was released in wetlands south of that city.

There have also been reports of jaguars and leatherback sea turtles re-entering spaces in Cancún from which human activity had kept them away for decades.

In Oaxaca, crocodiles occasionally enter spaces normally occupied by people. A fisherman was attacked by a crocodile while taking a nap on the Boca Barra beach, just south of Puerto Escondido, in November.

Similar incidents in the lagoons west of Puerto Escondido led the federal environmental protection agency Profepa to carry out a census of the animal’s numbers in the Manialtepec and Chacahua lagoons before the Covid-19 pandemic stopped normal life in its tracks.

The original project, which was suspended due to a lack of resources, aimed to find better ways to protect both humans and crocodiles, as people have encroached more and more into the animal’s habitat in recent years.

Sources: Mediotiempo (sp), Milenio (sp)

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