Two iconic island crocs have been targeted by poachers this week within 24 hours of each other. Thanks to the vigilance of island residents, we were able to save Fluffy from an illegal trap. Fluffy is the largest female we’ve caught in recent years, and one of the few sexually mature females we’ve caught on the island within the last 18 months.
Unfortunately there was nothing we could do to save Charlie.
After receiving a report about a dead croc floating in the mangroves of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve protected waters on the back side of the island, we found the poached body of one of the largest male American crocs on Ambergris, known as three-legged Charlie.
Identifiable by the missing front right foot, and the missing digit on his left hind foot (both documented during previous health inspections), the recently deceased body of Charlie was missing his head and tail which had been macheted off.
Charlie was known to residents around Ambergris Lake and San Pablo as he enjoyed late night or early morning strolls from the lake to the lagoon, something he’s probably done for many years. He never bothered anyone, or targeted people or even pets. His only crime and the only reason he’s so well known to us is because once in a while he’d get lost, stuck in a yard, or lost down a dead end road while trying to find his way during his routine patrols in which case we always responded immediately to help remedy the situation.
He was the definition of a gentle giant, and the loss of such an old and magnificent creature is a huge blow to the ever dwindling population of the threatened American crocodiles on Ambergris Caye.
Between major habitat destruction, poaching and pollution, I fear my generation will only be able to tell our grandkids about the amazing wildlife we used to see, but see no more. They will wonder why we didn’t do more to protect paradise and its inhabitants while we still could.
What will you tell them?
RIP Charlie - You were a beautiful and gentle giant.