Many residents of a coastal community in Oaxaca are living in fear, but it’s not extortion or kidnapping that worries them. It’s crocodiles.
Ppeople living on the shores of the Alotengo-Corralero lagoon system are on alert due to what they believe is an increase in the crocodile population. On top of that, one of the reptiles mauled and killed a child earlier this month.
Nicasio Merino Mejía, 10, had accompanied his father, a fisherman, to the lagoon on September 7, where he began playing on the shore. A crocodile swiftly caught the child and swept him away into deep water.
Three days later, after an exhaustive search, the child’s body was found about a kilometer away from where he was attacked.
Since then, the people of several communities on the shores of the lagoon system are living in fear. Fishing activities were suspended for a week after the death.
“Our people are fishermen, they virtually live on the lagoon. There’s still fear, though, as we don’t know how these animals will react,” said Ezequiel Cruz, police spokesman in the town of La Noria y Minindaca, located within the municipality of Pinotepa Nacional.
People from other coastal communities haven’t reported any crocodile attacks, but have warned citizens to remain on alert.
The communities have also asked the Environment Secretariat to address the problem as the presence of crocodiles is seen as excessive not only in the lagoon but in nearby ponds and streams.
In the town of Corralero, the Health Committee has started an information and awareness campaign, warning people not to feed the reptiles.
Children have been known to gather on the Los Anonitos bridge to throw dead animals into the lagoon, hoping to attract the crocs.
“We made a call to the population to stop feeding them. What will happen when food stops showing up in that spot? [The animals] will start looking for food outside their habitat,” warned Felipe Santiago Cruz, president of the committee.