Here’s a statement posted on Animals Lebanon’s Facebook page explaining how the crocodile ended up in Beirut, the traffic of crocodiles in Lebanon and other related questions:
Yes, there is a crocodile in the Beirut River.
A few days ago we spoke to a journalist from Al Joumhouria who claimed to have pictures and video footage of a Nile crocodile in the Beirut river. We did meet and have seen the pictures and footage, the location where he took the pictures from and the spot the crocodile was. So yes, for everyone asking, we certainly believe this is valid and there is a crocodile in the Beirut river.
Should we be surprised? Over the years we have come across smoking chimpanzees, lions kept on balconies in downtown Beirut, a tiger being driven around the city, so a crocodile doesn’t really seem that surprising when putting it all in context. Sightings of a crocodile have circulated over the last months but this was the first confirmation.
We have been coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Beirut Municipality. Both have been extremely cooperative, the priority now is to safely capture this crocodile both for its own welfare and the welfare of the people in the area.
Unfortunately crocodiles and many other endangered species are still being trafficked to Lebanon. These are not pets – what might seem interesting when small soon becomes a major problem as they grow larger and more dangerous. The country is the newest party of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species and we need to do more to prevent this.
To answer some questions and put aside some rumors –
– the crocodile is dangerous and would certainly defend itself, we strongly recommend against anyone trying to interact with or capture it
– the crocodile is estimated to be about a meter to a meter and a half long, not two or three meters
– there seems to be only one, not more
– most likely the crocodile was released by someone keeping it as an exotic pet or escaped from a nearby pet shop
– this is an endangered species and there are no records of legal import, but this species is sometimes seen in pet shop and we are contacted a few times each year by people that keep them in Lebanon
– the crocodile can go on land, but this is only along the riverbank, there is no fear of the crocodile walking to Hamra
– swimmers at any of the beaches north or south of Beirut should not worry about being attacked