Smarter? Man or beast

WOW! A crocodile captured in the Cayman Islands.

That’s really something.

I’d never heard of crocs, gators, caimans or any other slimy aquatic reptiles having been seen here in recent memory.

Crocs did once inhabit these Islands as evidenced by bones and fossils unearthed and now displayed at the National Trust House. In addition, some records of the earliest Old World visitors to Grand Cayman report terrible lizards lurking in the swamps, lagoons and coastal waters.

In fact some scholars speculate that the Cayman Islands may have gotten their name from the numerous crocodiles or caimans (obviously from a chart maker who couldn’t spell very well) that once thrived here. So it wasn’t all that long ago that this place was their home.

The first settlers to the Islands probably had the good sense to mercilessly hunt the beasts to extinction. That is why, up until now, we have been croc free, and why Steve Irwin never had reason to pay us a visit prior to his untimely death; which serves as a stark example that even those wild animals we may consider the most benign, not just species with large, visible, razor sharp teeth and gaping maw big enough to devour the family pet like a cocktail shrimp, can be lethal.

So, of course, the proper, rational and completely reasonable reaction to the sudden appearance here of a fearsome man-eater like a croc is, of course, panic, hysteria and mobilization of the police force to hunt it down and, of course, kill it.

Mysteriously however the Police chose to try to capture the menace with kill kept as Plan B.

Apparently there was no consideration of a Plan C, that is, let the confused animal wander off on its own, as the authorities feared it was a danger to the general public. Applying this same logic, perhaps the authorities should hunt down some North Sound boat trip operators as, by my count, they have been far more dangerous and down right deadly to the general public recently as opposed to wildlife.

Now, I first heard reports of the croc sighting on Thursday, 28 December. By the following Saturday the hideous devil had been captured. An astounding accomplishment given the fact that it took six months to track down the last CNB bank robbery suspect whose mental abilities and clever allusiveness, in comparison to the croc which has the cognitive functions of a peanut butter sandwich, are far more limited.

During the capture operation, cooler heads prevailed when a member of the public took matters into his own hands and shot the odious creature with a spear gun, which I think is an excellent capture method that the police should consider employing when apprehending dirt-bag criminals too.

Dispatching a croc however is about as easy as killing a truck tyre and since it probably isn’t safe to keep the wounded animal at the George Town lockup, after all, the murderous felons there might further harm the poor thing, it was sent to the Turtle Farm.

The Turtle Farm staff determined that the vile monster is probably a female and have named her Daisy. Daisy is recovering from her capture and it is unclear what the future holds for her.

It’s far more certain however what is likely in store for Daisy’s species-and it’s not all that encouraging. The American crocodile is listed as endangered in the United States with only 400 to 1,200 individuals left in extreme South Florida. Worldwide there are probably 10,000 to 20,000 and again are protected in most places they are still found. But poaching for hides continues and habitat destruction is pushing these animals to extinction.

Mr. Geddes Hislop of the Turtle Farm speculates that had Daisy not been captured she probably would not have lasted as long around here as Rosie O’Donnell on the season premier of The Apprentice. Someone would have killed her.

It is said that saurians like the croc are living fossils that haven’t changed in 65 million years. Homo sapiens on the other hand have only been around about 200,000 years. Given our dubious track record of stewardship of planet Earth and more specifically our own Cayman Islands and its bounty of God-given creatures, I wonder; which has evolved further?

Gregory S. McTaggart

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