Specialist authorities in Preah Sihanouk province decided to return two crocodiles to Sihanoukville’s Life University on Monday and required their owner to sign a contract agreeing not to be negligent after residents found them wandering around Mittapheap district’s Commune III.
The residents caught the animals and reported them to the authorities on Sunday.
Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Nen Chamroeun told The Post on Monday that the two reptiles had been properly raised, but had escaped down a stream.
“The crocodiles escaped from Life University in Sihanoukville. Now we have returned them to their owner, who was made to sign a contract agreeing to stop such negligence and protect the people’s safety and wellbeing. We were lucky this time because no one was hurt. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Chamroeun said Life University had raised 17 crocodiles on its compound, but six of them had escaped. The owner had already caught the other four before the residents discovered the two crocodiles in Commune III, he said, adding that he was unable to confirm the university’s purpose in raising the crocodiles. The two that were caught weighed 2kg and 5kg.
Resident Horn Socheat said the crocodiles were spotted crawling along a stream in Commune III’s Village 1 in Mittapheap district.
“We didn’t know where they had come from, but in the past, we’ve seen some crocodiles in Stung Hav district. If rains flood the area again, crocodiles might be able to escape into streams or the canal,” he said.
Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said there are two or three crocodile farms in the province. “We don’t know how they escaped, but there were a lot of floods in Commune III.
“The authorities should investigate the case further and instruct residents to be careful of crocodiles and any venomous animals. When there is flooding, there are always animals going near residents’ houses,” she said.
No one at Life University could be reached for comment on Monday.