JAKARTA: Hundreds of sunbathers fled a popular Indonesian beach in panic when a four-meter crocodile laid down next to them to soak up some rays, an official said on Wednesday.
Crowds were thronging the beach at Balikpapan on Borneo island at the weekend when the 500 kilogram reptile crawled ashore.
“The crocodile was spotted sunbathing near the lifeguard post on Saturday morning,” said local coastguard Ari Triyanto.
Beachgoers initially panicked and fled the area before slowly moving back in small groups to watch police attempt to catch the crocodile, he said.
But it was no easy task, as the reptile took to the water when officers approached and did not come back ashore.
“It was not an easy job. The crocodile swam up and down the coast for three days,” Triyanto said. “We finally caught it on Monday afternoon when it swam near a river mouth.”
The saltwater crocodile was sent to a nearby breeding center, where the reptiles are raised for their skin and meat.
Indonesia is home to a vast array of exotic wildlife, including several species of crocodile, and the reptiles occasionally attack humans.
In January last year a 10-year-old girl was swallowed by a crocodile as she played in a river with her father in East Nusa Tenggara province.