We have to wait for the previous group to finish with the croc, and I recognise that they are professional and unlikely to fail. I do not know their methods, but I didn't like the way they hauled a croc around concrete with a rope. They don't want anything to do with anybody else and that's fine with me.
Nevertheless, they have a track record and should succeed, so we shall stop this campaign and refund the money already donated. More than a year since I first planned to come and there is already a team here 😂🤣😂.
In the meantime, I have met a number of local officials and been taken to meet the Bupati of Parigi Moutong, this regency extending up the neck of Sulawesi. Beautiful, with the mountains crammed up against 470km of white sand beaches.
Apart from economic support to the coconut industry - biggest producer of coconut oil in Indonesia and with the capacity to make Virgin cold pressed oil - they are rich in wildlife.
So there is more we can do to help than tourism. The official responsible for arranging wildlife reserves is taking us around, and they like the idea of making the Palu river a reserve.
How does this tour sound: arrive in Palu, boat trip to see crocodiles. Evening meal with wild crocodiles coming to be fed in front of you. Next day drive over the mountains, enormous views, and stop to feed wild Black Crested macaque with local fruit. Overnight in a small hotel where tarsier come out at 7pm to jump around catching insects. Visit a waterfall where flying lizards play in the updraught. Come down to a reserve with over a hundred megalithic statues, up to 4m tall. And at times stop to swim in the sea on the equator. I forgot to mention the lobster.
Today I am in a very different mood.
We have met all the senior dignitaries of Palu except the Mayor who wants to see us at lunchtime.
We have a licence to catch the crocodile after the current attempt.
But I don't want to catch it any more.
You see, this crocodile symbolises Palu. The people love it. There are toys of it in the shops. The people feel for this croc and cheer every time there is a failed capture attempt.
The only people who wish to catch it are foreigners.
Whenever I come to an area, I look to see what opportunities for development. Here at the neck of Sulawesi, there isn't much industry and I despair on natural resource exploitation. What is sustainable?
I am going to push the idea of a specialist crocodile reserve.
With the croc and his tyre as its icon.
There are 1,200 hectares of perfect croc habitat. There is a relationship with the locals who carry on their lives besides the animals, both unmolested. Plenty of hotels, we just need boats for tourist trips.
And other animals.
Well, this is Sulawesi, largest island in Wallacea. Home of the incredible, the weird, the unusual. The Black Celebes ape; the Babirusa - the pig-deer; the Anoa - the buffalo-deer and the Maleo fowl, a thermometer bird that can tell the temperature for its eggs. All of these are around here.
I am meeting again later with the head of tourism.
At lunchtime we were received by the head of the Wildlife department in Palu. Here we received a lot of interesting information. This is the department that issued the recent competition to catch the croc, which it seems caused a lot of problems.
The local people consider the croc to be a relative. They are not happy with the idea of him being caught, even to help him by removing the tyre. They think of him as an icon - and he is.
Therefore, the head of the department will not issue a license to catch the croc, because he doesn't want to be blamed. The license must be issued by Jakarta.
Nevertheless, they had a small captive croc out the back which caused me distress because he is being used to practice...
There is already another team here from Australia who are helping them with advice and traps. I understand they are funded to the tune of $500,000 which slightly puts us in the shade! Nevertheless, they haven't been to meet the senior people in Palu which they should.
Afterwards, we went to the mouth of the river, where we could see three crocodiles and two people on the beach. Neither bothered the other. We understand that in Kupang there are no crocodiles, yet somebody is killed every month. Here there are lots and nobody has been hurt.
We were ambushed by journalists, and it seems they are waiting all over town. The Raja have them an interview.
We also received the news that the Mayor will meet us this afternoon. He is empowered to issue a licence, so we may not need to go to Jakarta.
#indonesia #palu #crocrescue
At breakfast this morning we met with the Governor of Central Sulawesi, who is also the hereditary Raja of Palu, a Kaili, and has a connection to the crocodile.
He is delighted that the Raja has arrived with a team and given his blessing and permission for our presence to help release the crocodile.
Separately, we have been asked not to perform any rituals which may upset the local people, the Kaili, who believe a Buginese Ritual caused the tsunami. Tensions everywhere, and we endeavour to appease all sides.
This afternoon we shall go to the river.
From left, Raja Parigi, Rex Sumner, Raja Samu Samu, Dr Muhammad Rusly, Gubernur Drs Longki Djanggola, Member of Indonesian Council, Bernard Marsh, Corey Wild.
We awake to the welcome news that the Mayor of Makassar, the main city of Sulawesi, wishes to support our venture and has supplied us with a car and driver while we are in Palu.
While not a large city, we do have croc catching kit to transport, so this is a major saving from our daily costs.
Thank you to YM Iqbal Suhaeb. Your support was unexpected and is most welcome. The Raja is most grateful and we look forward to visiting you again in your beautiful city.