PADANG, KOMPAS.com – SAR teams looking for a man in West Sumatra's West Pasaman district who went missing over the weekend found their worst fears confirmed, after they found him dead on Tuesday, January 19.
"The SAR team and a number of local volunteers found [Rusli's] remains at 9 am, three kilometers downstream on the Batang Sikabau River from where he was last seen alive on Sunday," said Zulfahmi, the head of the local SAR branch in West Pasaman.
"There were marks which we suspected are from crocodile bites on his waist and hips. We also spotted a number of crocodiles as we searched for Rusli, so we have to take precautions."
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Nature Conservation Agency [BKSDA] head for Forest Ecosystems and Conservation Ade Putra confirmed Zulfahmi's allegations. "[The Batang Sikabau river] is known to be a crocodile habitat," he said. "So there is a high probabillty that he was mauled by one of the big reptiles."
The 40-year-old Rusli disappeared after he went to the river for wudu, or ritual ablutions before prayers.
His death comes amid reports of crocodiles terrorizing humans annually in nearby Jambi province's Teluk Dawan district, as the area's Batanghari river overflowed its banks during the rainy season.
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BKSDA Jambi branch head Rahmat Saleh noted that the Batanghari is prime saltwater crocodile habitat because of its swampy terrain and proximity to peatland.
Conflicts between humans and wildlife often occur on Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia, as demand for land from the country’s increasing population led them to enroach on the animals’ habitat.