Another crocodile article from Channel 5 news. Note that the article does talk about the killing of crocodiles....

Belize City teen killed by crocodile
------------------------------------
The calls to this station come in so often that we no longer consider them news. What I'm talking about is the sight of a crocodile strolling through a Belize City neighbourhood. But the tragedy, which unfolded on Sunday afternoon in the Belama area, was not just a sighting; it was a killing. And to make matters worse, the body of the teenaged victim was not discovered until shortly after eight this morning. News 5's Jacqueline Woods and cameraman George Tillett have been following the story since Sunday.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
The actual wound was a small one to the abdomen...but there was no doubt that it was a crocodile that pulled thirteen year old Jamaal Swift down to his death at the bottom of a canal off the Haulover Creek. Witnesses say the croc was a big one...eight to ten feet long...and Swift didn't have a chance.

Mushae McDonald, Resident
"After it attack the boy it came back up, but because of a crowd that was out here and when they saw him they started to make noise because some of the neighbours had shotguns and thing and policeman try to shoot after it. But because of the noise it went back under the water and so we clean off the river bank the side of it to try and catch it again but from then it did not come back up."

The drama unfolded around 1:00 Sunday afternoon. Jamaal, who was a member of the ironically named Belama Gator's Football Team was with his friends when they went to the canal to swim. The boys had just won their game earlier in the day and went to the water to celebrate. The boys first climbed onto this concrete building and then jumped into the canal when Swift was attacked.

Witnesses say someone spotted the animal and shouted "Croc." The boys tried to make it to the bank but Swift who was trailing behind his friends was grabbed by his foot and pulled underwater. Swift surfaced once but was pulled back down and never came back up.

A search team made up of Belama residents combed the area looking for the young boy. The party remained in the area well into the night, but it was not until this morning that someone saw the body. Residents say that throughout the search both the police and the B.D.F. did little to help them find their neighbour.

Mushae McDonald
"About two hours after the incident the B.D.F. and so try to help but it look like they just quit and we stayed because we know the boy because the young boy is from our neighbourhood so we won't just give up like that and we stayed up all night and we travel from where the boy jumped into the water to way around in the river and come back up and down."

Jamaal's father, Magistrate Richard Swift, desperately searched the waters for his son. Swift says Jamaal was aware of the danger that exist in the Belama Canals and believes the only reason why Jamaal would have taken the risk and go into the water was because he was in the company of friends.

Richard Swift, Father
"Jamaal is a sensible young boy and he knows that I have a canal right behind my place, he knows the water is not good to bathe in, he also knows that it is very infested with crocodiles but you know boys will be boys and I understand they went out to play football game and when they came back they did win and they went over there and decided to take a bath."

Following the incident, the residents tried to capture and kill the crocodile. While efforts to get the reptile's attention proved futile they did manage to land a smaller one and make it pay for the sins of its family. Residents say for a long time they have been complaining to the authorities about the presence of crocodiles in a residential neighbourhood but say they have been told by environmental groups that the crocodile is an endangered specie and they could be taken to court if they hurt or kill the reptile.

Hugh Bowden, Resident
"Well I live in the Belama area for six years now. I have been telling the public, I have been telling the television station about these crocodiles that live in Belama phases III, II and I, but according to my understanding the Belize Audubon Society does not want to listen to the people in Belama."

Jessie Pinks, Resident
"We did not believe in don't kill the animals, don't kill crocodiles, alligator don't do this, don't do that. Now they want us not to do nothing to any of the animals not even deer, nothing. All they want us to do is just leave the animals wandering around the place. You know just how many crocodiles are out here? I live right over there and you see them on the sidewalk over there and you see them on the sidewalk floating up. They took away the dog, they only find the dog head, floating. I have a friend in this little white house, the crocodile lie behind her house we went there and saw it and it broke down her fence this is not right what they are doing with us up here."

Elroy Bonnell, Resident
"Enough kids are around and you never know what would happen. Well we bigger guys can take care of ourselves, but those smaller guys can't take care of themselves."

The Swift family says no matter what future actions may be taken to control killer crocodiles, their son is dead. They are at least thankful that his body was found and they will be able to put him at rest. However, they are appealing to authorities to address the problem and make the area a safer place to live.

Richard Swift
"In terms of those crocodiles and so on that are in these canals we want the authorities, Audubon Society, whosoever, we want them to know that people live in these areas; it is not like before where the crocodiles used to roam. So they have to do something about these animals because they are very hungry obviously and they are roaming."

...And until something is done to make Belama residents feel safer, residents are urged to keep out of the water and watch where you walk. Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

While residents may have singled out the Audubon Society for their wrath, it is the Ministry of Natural Resources which controls hunting of wild animals. Nigeli Sosa of the Conservation Division told News 5 that while in general hunting of crocodiles is not allowed, there is no law against killing a croc that is threatening a neighbourhood's safety. Sosa says her department will be making an assessment of the area with an eye to reducing the population of crocodiles.







Zoo curator says crocs should be left alone
Not all Belizeans share the righteous anger of those Belama residents now mourning the death of Jamaal Swift. The Belize Zoo's Tony Garel, says that man and nature can peacefully coexist--provided we follow some common sense rules.

Tony Garel, Curator, Belize Zoo
"First of all, let me express my sympathy to the parents. I have three kids and I could certainly imagine what they're going through. Crocodiles are at the top of the food chain, they're predators, and when you have large predators conflicting with people, in other words if you are in the same area or the same vicinity bathing with large crocs around and in their territory, it's usually a bad situation. So it could be territorial, and also could be that the crocodile saw the kids swimming and water splashing, not realising it was a human being and then took the opportunity."

Jacqueline Woods
"What happens after a crocodile attacks you?"

Tony Garel
"Usually how large crocodiles attack preys, they sneak up on the prey and in a sudden burst, they charge and grab them, pull them in the water and submerge them and drown them. Most predators don't like to go through a vicious fight with their prey. They try and subdue it as quickly, most efficient way and it's usually by drowning in the case of crocodiles."

Garel is familiar with the situation in Belama and recommends that authorities place signs in the area warning people of the danger and also restrict swimming in the area.