An island off the coast of Sabahan has found itself harboring and sheltering vicious saltwater crocodiles. You know, the kind that haunts shallow water and will break, drag, and swallow up anyone who wades through their backyard.
Pulau Banggi, the peaceful sandy island previously untouched by the threat of crocodiles, has increasingly become a human buffet for aquatic beasts. They started appearing about 4 years ago, and have been the cause of many accidents with islanders since. Its three thousand inhabitants live mainly from fishing in the vicinity of the island, and attacks are more and more frequent.
Locals suspect the crocodiles swam from Pulau Balambagan. Although attempts to implement safety measures have been made, authorities themselves have been found on the wrong side of being crocodile bait.
Juani Ari, a 42-year-old teacher on the island, told reporters that an officer patrolling the coast was himself attacked by a crocodile and needed medical attention. Most of the island is made up of rural accommodation, where the main source of income is fishing. The inhabitants no longer want to go in the water. You can see the problem here.
East Malaysia is arguably the most resource-rich region in the country. Sabah is the country’s largest palm oil supplier. From palm oil to rubber to timber, money flows from Borneo but often does not reach the backwaters of its rural residents.
Sabah and the neighboring state of Sarawak have both seen an increase in crocodile sightings and attacks. A few years ago, the people of Sarawak noticed that the attacks were on the increase. Many have blamed the evolution of the eco-structure brought on by palm oil cultivation and logging to the increase in the number of fangs in previously unknown waters.
There is no denying how lucrative these industries are. To get a feel for it, the neighboring state of Sarawak has earned RM1.42 billion from timber in the past 3 months alone. However, you wouldn’t know much judging by the infrastructure of remote communities, which have dirt roads and few economic opportunities.
And for the people of Pulau Banggi, nothing is closer to the truth. Unpaved roads mean that to get to town and to the market, they have to wade through shallow rivers instead of walking along a proper sidewalk. Guess which fangs call home.
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