The arrival of as many as four crocodiles in Zahirpur,a small village of 200 people dotted with five ponds under Gudamba police station area in Lucknow,has become an opportunity for adventure for children who eagerly wait to spot them. The elders,however,are afraid that their children might be attacked by the reptiles.
Four crocodiles have been sighted in the village in the past 15 days. A team of Forest Department officials went to catch one crocodile a few days ago but it slipped out of their net. The officials reportedly did not make any more attempts after that.
According to villagers,one of the crocodiles is more than five feet long while others are smaller. They say the crocodiles have come from Kukrail jungles but the forest officials say they have been living in the village ponds for long.
The biggest crocodile,which is living in a 10 foot-deep pond,killed three chickens of one Ram Milan last week. There are seven houses adjacent to this pond. Keval Rawat,whose family of 10 lives in the two-room-house on the bank of the pond,says that the arrival of the crocodile has become a cause of worry for the family.
My family is locked inside the house after dark. No one can come out,not even to attend natures call. In the night,the crocodile comes into my courtyard and lies there all night, Rawat says.
He says the most vulnerable are the children who play around the pond,and his chickens. Today the crocodile grabbed a duck outside his house. Rawat had to beat the crocodile with a stick to rescue the injured duck.
Another villager,Ram Kishor Yadav,who lives in a single-storey house with seven families in it,says no one steps out of their house at night. The most acute problem is that their only toilet is close to the pond. Yadav spotted the crocodile lying outside the toilet door on Sunday. It moved into the pond after seeing him.
The kids are afraid to use the toilet even in the daytime. No one from the family can even go on the roof when electricity is not available as the stairs to the roof are near the pond.
Range Officer (Kukrail) B N Singh says the crocodiles have been living in the ponds for long. Since the ponds are more than 15 feet deep,it is not possible to catch them,he said,adding they will wait for the water level to fall. Until then,the villagers will have to live with the crocodiles.