A baby marsh crocodile was rescued after a five-day-long operation from a well at a closed construction site in the thickly-populated Marol area of Mumbai's suburban Andheri east, officials said on Tuesday.
The crocodile, measuring around 3 feet and weighing a little over 3 kgs, was spotted by some labourers on Thursday in the 70 feet deep old well at the construction site.
Panicking by the slithery creature, they contacted Borivali-based rescue organisation, SARRP to help out, said its founder-President Santosh Shinde.
Though it is not clear how the crocodile ended up in the well, the rescuers believe it may be through a swollen tributary of Mithi River last monsoon, which flows close to the construction area which has been shut down owing to the pandemic lockdown.
"Initially, when we tried to approach it, the crocodile seemed violent and tried to snap at us, so we retreated. Later, we approached it again on Monday with proper safety gear," Shinde told IANS.
The rescue team comprising Shinde, Arbaaz Khan, Sheldon D'Souza, Mitesh Solanki and Umesh Sawant meticulously planned out the entire complicated operation.
"This involved cutting the iron grills on the well plus the barricades that cordoned off the construction site. Then there was the water in the well which added to the problems," Shinde said.
With the help of the equipment at the construction site, the process to empty the water started and they managed to flush out nearly upto 25 feet or so before the crocodile could be seen perched on a small, stone platform below.
Using a crane from the construction site, three of the rescue team-mates finally descended below and managed to catch the baby crocodile and brought it up safely, said SARRP committee member Khushman Doshi.
The rescuers suspect that the crocodile may have strayed undetected sometime during the heavy rain spells in Mumbai during monsoon and found refuge in the quiet environs of the construction site in the pandemic lockdown.
To a query what it must have fed on, Shinde said: "Probably fish in the well. During the flushing out, one local variety fish, measuring around one feet long, also came out, probably its last meal!"
Later, SARRP veteranian Dr. Sunetra Wadake examined the crocodile thoroughly and found it fully healthy and fit, Shinde aadded.
The Forest Department officials, who were updated on the rescue mission since the past four days, finally permitted the baby crocodile to be released "at a designated site in its natural environs".
This is the second crocodile rescue by SARRP in the past three years or so, with the earlier carried out near Powai Lake which had flooded during the heavy rains that monsoon, said Doshi.
SARRP has so far rescued scores of wild animals, birds, reptiles including many snakes and pythons, other big and small animals, from different parts of Mumbai - which boasts of a large variety of wildlife despite the concrete jungle.