As Abidjan's economic development brings new hotels, offices and homes ever closer to the edge of its lagoon system, a new scheme is training emergency workers to humanely capture the crocodiles who live there. David Doyle reports
What happens when a prehistoric predator clashes with the advance of modern development? That's the conundrum in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast's biggest city. And Reuters Joe Wavier has been hearing about one solution. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) REUTERS REPORTER JOE BAVIER, SAYING: "Abidjan is a city of 5m people and its experienced one of the fastest growth rates in the world over the past six years. That's led to a construction boom that's fed into development along the waterfront,. This is a traditional habitat of crocodiles." In a bid to prevent a confrontation between Abidjan's five million human residents and their reptilian co-habitants, a government-backed scheme is teaching rescue workers and forestry agents how to humanely capture crocs. The efforts are being led by American conservation biologist Matt Shirley. On this moonlit night Shirley and team cruise the shoreline of a half billion dollar development project looking for crocodiles. It's not as dangerous a pastime as you might think. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST, MATT SHIRLEY, SAYING: "The crocodiles that we have here fortunately for the most part are a small species that are actually quite timid and there's not many records of attacks on people. I think the last record is something like 30-40 years ago." The concern is that fear of the crocodiles could lead to a violent backlash against them. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) REUTERS REPORTER JOE BAVIER, SAYING: "You do have neighbourhoods right up to the waters edge. People just aren't used to living near them anymore." Once the crocodiles are caught they are relocated to a national park outside the city. A safe distance away from any noisy neighbours.