A rare but beautiful example of human-animal coexistence was witnessed in a village of Chhattisgarh where the villagers mourned the death of a crocodile. In Bawa Mohtara village in Bemetara district, a 130 year-old crocodile died in the village pond on Tuesday. After the reptile died, the villagers took out a funeral procession of the crocodile. The mournful people of the village did not even cook food on the of the crocodile’s death.
The 3.4 metre-long crocodile was found dead on 8th January in the village pond, after which the villagers had informed the forest department and the carcass was taken out of the water. The animal died of natural causes, which weighed around 250 kg. More than 500 villagers took part in the funeral procession.
The villagers had named the crocodile as ‘Gangaram’ and used to worship him as a deity. According to the village Sarpanch, the villagers are considering to build a temple in the memory of the crocodile. A memorial is also decided to be erected on the bank of the pond where the crocodile was buried. The villagers also performed the last rites of the crocodile whom they considered their protector.
“The villagers had so much affection for the reptile that many of them did not even cook food the day it died. Locals had long back named it ‘Gangaram’. They used to worship it as a deity and the protector of the village,” told village Sarpanch Mohan Sahu. He said that crocodile had been living in the village pond for more than 100 years and had never harmed the villagers including children who used to bathe in the pond. “In the past, the crocodile had crawled over to some nearby villages couple of times and we had to bring it back to the pond,” Sahu said.
R K Sinha, Sub-divisional officer of forest Bemetara appreciated the love of villagers for the crocodile. He said that the villagers have set a good example of human-animal coexistence. “After getting information about its death, the forest personnel went there and a post-mortem was conducted by veterinarians. After the autopsy, the carcass was handed over to the villagers as they wanted to perform it final rites,” he added.