Debate has raged among marine wildlife and conservation experts about what should be done with Leypang.
Some called for Leypang to be set free, others said the 200-kilo croc should be kept in a natural reserve where he can be studied. Officials from the Department of Fisheries initially called for experts wanting to take Leypang off their hands to come and collect him.
However, one pertinent point made by Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Fishery at Kasetsart University in Bangkok and who serves as an official advisor to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), is that regardless of what decision is made, all people, including the public, must agree to it as the solution. (See story here.)
To this, The Phuket News asked readers the simple question, “What do you believe should be done with the Phuket saltwater crocodile Leypang?”
Only 8% of respondents voted, “Hand him over to a local crocodile show as a special attraction to tourists.”
A further 35% voted, “Keep him in a natural reserve where he will be safe and can be studied.”
However, 18% of people taking part in the poll voted, “Set him free somewhere in Phuket where he has already made his home”, while a further 34% voted, “Set him free at the best suitable location somewhere else in Thailand.”
Only 5% of respondents voted, “Set him free at a suitable location somewhere else not in Thailand.”
The poll also inspired many alternative suggestions online, including a combination of the responses made available in the poll, such as to keep Leypang in a nature reserve in Phuket where he could be studied and kept safe but also remain a tourist attraction.
To see the full poll results, click here.
Meanwhile, staff tasked with looking after Leypang at the Phuket Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre in Pa Khlok have expressed concern that the crocodile now has not eaten for 22 days, though experts have discounted that as not worrying as crocodiles can go many weeks without eating in the wild.
Regarding the DNA tests to attempt to identify exactly which species of crocodile Leypang is, Paisan Sukpunnapan from the Phuket Provincial Fisheries Office today (Sept 22) told The Phuket News, “We expect to receive the results of the DNA tests soon.”
The results might be returned as soon as next week, one officer at the centre said.
“Next we will hand over responsibility for Leypang to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for them to determine what will happen with Leypang,” Mr Paisarn said.