Last updateFri, 13 Mar 2015 5pm

Vallarta has its own “Crocodile Dundee”

Recently videos posted online show a man feeding and petting crocodiles in the Boca Negra estuary in the area between the Airport and the mouth of the Rio Ameca on Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta. He has even invited tourists to mount crocodiles and have their photo taken. 

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa) is now searching for this lizard charmer. “What he’s doing is illegal and he’s putting people at risk,” said Vallarta Environment and Ecology chief Juan Jose Navarro Amaral. Although local and traffic police are on the lookout, it is Profepa and the Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) that are in charge of this type of crime, he noted. His agency filed a complaint with the federal entity January 27.

In the videos, some which date from 2012, the same man calls the crocodiles out of the water and feeds them within a few yards of tourists taking videos without any protection. “Besides being an illegal activity, this individual is modifying the habitat and natural conditions of the animals,” said Navarro. “The crocodile is associating humans with food and if someone enters this area with a pet or a young child, the crocodile may assocate that with food and then attack. In October, 2010 a 33-year old fisherman was attacked and killed by a crocodile in nearby Boca Tomates.

The Crocodylus acutus (river crocodile) can be found in some 50 wetlands along the coasts of Jalisco. Boca de Tomates and Boca Negra  are two wetland areas that have been encroached upon in recent years by resorts and are seeing more tourism. Scientists have registered more than 78 species of birds, 66 flora within four types of vegetation and 37 species of amphibians and reptiles. It is a major breeding grounds for birds, crocodiles and marine turtles. With its tall mangrove swamps it probably has the least altered crab population in the city. The Nuestro Tierra A.C. And the Centro Universitario de la Costa de the UdG has proposed a municipal park for the area in order to protect, restore, and put order to the use of the area and allow it to be viewed as a natural treasure to be enjoyed and shared without risking the ecosystem.