In Indonesia, particularly on Bangka Island, there’s a significant rise in saltwater crocodile attacks on humans. The increase in attacks is attributed to the extensive tin mining operations on the island, which have resulted in a loss of the crocodiles’ natural habitats. These crocodiles are now residing in the abandoned mining pits, which have become essential water sources for locals due to climate-induced dry seasons. Moreover, local beliefs and weak law enforcement have complicated the response to this crisis.
- Indonesia, specifically Bangka Island, has seen about 1,000 saltwater crocodile attacks in the past decade, resulting in over 450 fatalities.
- Intense tin mining on Bangka Island has led to vast environmental degradation, with over 60% of the island converted into mines. As a result, crocodiles are losing their habitats and moving closer to human settlements.
- Last year’s extended dry season, worsened by climate change, dried up many natural water sources, pushing locals to rely on water from these mining pits, which are now inhabited by crocodiles.
- Though crocodiles are a protected species in Indonesia, local traditions on Bangka Island often result in their killing after attacks, rather than their conservation.
- The Indonesian government’s attempt to address illegal mining by legalizing it comes with a stipulation: miners must engage in habitat restoration. However, many doubt the effectiveness of this approach, given the lack of strong enforcement and miners’ commitment to environmental conservation.