The State Forest Department has caught a crocodile close to Khadakwasla dam early Tuesday morning, after some villagers spotted it on Monday.
The reptile was caught not far from the area where the National Defence Academy (NDA) cadets receive watermanship training, the officials said. The crocodile was netted by the forest department team and employees of the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj and released into natural habitat in the afternoon.
Vijay Mane, assistant conservator of forest, said, “Some villagers spotted the crocodile adjacent to a small road near the Khadakwasla reservoir. The villagers alerted us after which we sent our team along with experts from the zoological park. We spotted and caught it in the early hours of Tuesday.”
Mane added, “We believe the crocodile to have come near the exit point of the dam reservoir due to continuous discharge from the dam. This spot is near the area where the NDA cadets are trained.”
Harish Gadge, senior animal keeper, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, said, “The crocodile was caught with the help of rope trap. It was brought to the zoological park in a cage. It has been marked and DNA samples have been taken. It was released into its natural habitat.”
Mane further said, “It was released at a location we do not disclose for protection of the animal.”
NDA officials had said in the past that presence of crocodiles in backwaters of Khadakwasla dam were putting restrictions on watermanship activities of NDA. But the officers maintained that they have “learnt to live in harmony” with the reptiles.
In February 2012, the forest department and NDA teams removed a crocodile from the Khadakwasla dam after a 10-hour operation.
After months, another crocodile was sighted in the reservoir. As per the RTI information obtained by The Indian Express, the Nausena Prashikshan Dal of NDA, which trains naval cadets in Peacock Bay, sighted a crocodile on October 29, 2012. Sighting of crocodiles continued even later.
RTI information sought by activist Bhagwan Nivdekar from Pune revealed that the state forest department had released six crocodiles from the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, Katraj into Khadakwasla waters — three on November 29, 2007 and three on April 24, 2009 — without following laid down norms.