"A reward will be given to anyone, who can release the hapless reptile," Central Sulawesi BKSDA chief Hasmuni Hasmar stated in Palu City, Central Sulawesi Province, Tuesday, though he chose to not divulge details of the prize.
According to Hasmar, the contest aims to involve the public in a bid to free the crocodile, as only few people in the office are available to handle the wild reptile.
The wild reptile, who many believe is a critically endangered Siamese crocodile, had to carry the tyre around its neck since it was first spotted roaming in the Palu River to Palu Bay in 2016.
The crocodile was found to have survived the tsunami and earthquake that had struck Central Sulawesi's capital city, Palu, in 2018, but the tyre remained lodged around its neck. With its body growing bigger, the crocodile may get strangled by the tyre.
Before the disasters, in January 2018, conservationist and famous animal whisperer Muhammad Panji or Panji Petualang (Panji, the Adventurer), had attempted to take off the tyre from the crocodile's neck but to no avail.
During the same year, the conservation office also attempted to lure the crocodile using chicken and meat, though it failed to draw the reptile’s interest. In the meantime, a crocodile trap, set by the office, also failed to capture the reptile, as it was difficult to be brought under control in the wild.
"We had contacted our counterparts in Australia's NGO to help us with this situation, but they had also attempted and failed," Hasmar added.
EDITED BY INE