Sepik River

Papua New Guinea: Crocodile Attacks Sepik River Villagers

Port Moresby/PNG | 02.12.2005 | PC/APD | International

A Seventh-day Adventist Church elder from Kanganamun village in Angoram, East Sepik Province, located on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, says crocodiles are running amok on the Sepik River and has called for help.

Isaac Wambun, who is in Madang to seek assistance from authorities on what could be done, said killer crocodiles were threatening the livelihood of his people living along the banks of the Sepik River, the national newspaper Post Courier reports.

Mr Wambun said this was a new trend as crocodile attacks of this nature were rare in the past. He said in the last few months, two people have been killed in crocodile attacks.

Mr Wambun said in a recent attack, three men and two women were lucky to escape when a crocodile attacked their canoe.

He said earlier this year, a man was attacked and killed by a crocodile while he slept in his house at Kanduanum.

In August, a man from Kamanibit, also in the Angoram district, was attacked and killed in another crocodile attack while he was paddling home from his garden in a canoe after dark.

In September, a group of Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) members were also attacked while paddling towards Angoram but were lucky to escape alive.

Among them was SDA Parambe circuit woman leader Dorcas Gawi who related her experience in Madang recently. She said they were paddling when a crocodile attacked them. Their canoe was upstaged and they all fell in the river but were lucky they were near the bank and they had swam ashore. “The crocodile probably bit the canoe and pulled it downward as our canoe went vertically straight into the river,” Mrs Gawi said.

The Sepik region is an immense grassland reserve, surrounded by one of the world's greatest rivers which runs 1,126kms from its origins in the mountains to the sea. The people along the river depend heavily on it for transportation, water and food. The Sepik river, a major tourist attraction, is infested with crocodiles, which have for centuries lived among the river dwellers and formed a major part of their culture, including the famous initiation rites. But efforts are now underway in some parts of the river communities to protect these ancient reptiles. Tribes along the Sepik river in Papua New Guinea have a special relationship with crocodiles - a devotion to them reflected in carvings, paintings and "coming of age" ceremonies.

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