Crocodile Has Jaws Taped Shut in 'Deplorable' Act as Rescue Operation Launched to Save Reptile from Starvation

Australian wildlife officials have asked for the public's help in trying to save the life of a crocodile that was pictured with its mouth taped shut.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has appealed for information after a member of the public—who was not named—snapped multiple pictures of the reptile close to Mitchell River at Mt Carbine, Far North Queensland, on October 28.

In the photograph that was released by the agency, the crocodile can be seen lying on a wooden log with its snout held closed with black tape or a type of banding. Experts said that they expect the animal will die if it's unable to hunt for prey and eat.

The agency is not only hunting for what officials deemed to be a small freshwater croc, but also the person who is responsible for taping its mouth closed.

"It is hard to imagine what would motivate someone to do that to an animal. It is beyond belief. It is deplorable, and that's why we want to hear from anyone with information about who might have done this to contact us," said DES wildlife management director Lindsay Delzoppo while saying rangers are actively investigating, ABC reported.

"We are going to try to locate the animal so we can capture it, remove the tape or ring, and release it. "Ultimately the animal will die if we don't intervene," he added, urging the public to contact with tips. "It won't die straight away, but it will die if it can't eat."

According to the DES, it launched the probe after being contacted by the RSPCA, which had been alerted to it by the person who first spotted the crocodile last week.

As part of the investigation, rangers will now attempt to capture the animal and remove the tape before releasing it back into the wild. "People who interfere with crocs risk fines of more than $30,000," the government agency said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

DES is investigating a report of a freshwater crocodile in the Mitchell River near Mt Carbine with its mouth taped shut. If you see the crocodile call 1300 130 372 and report its location. People who interfere with crocs risk fines of more than $30,000 https://t.co/D5HRAZrn0n pic.twitter.com/cB0KwNBZIr

— Queensland Environment (@QldEnvironment) November 2, 2020

Officials have confirmed that it's an offence to deliberately interfere with, harm, or kill a freshwater crocodile under the country's Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Freshwater crocs are often smaller than saltwater crocodiles and pose considerably less threat to humans, the agency explained in a fact sheet that says the "freshies" mostly eat small animals such as insects, fish, frogs, lizards, bats and turtles.

"However, like many wild animals, freshwater crocodiles may become aggressive if they feel threatened or cornered, and people are encouraged not to approach the animals if they see them in the wild. If left alone freshwater crocodiles generally pose very little danger to the community. They can be distinguished from estuarine (or saltwater) crocodiles by their smaller body size and narrower snout," the agency said.

Members of the public are being urged to report any crocodile sightings as soon as possible by calling 1300 130 372. DES said it investigates all reports it receives.

Freshwater crocodile
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has appealed for public information following a recent report of a freshwater crocodile swimming with its mouth taped shut in the Mitchell River at Mt Carbine. DES/Media Release