A wild crocodile in Indonesia that had a motorcycle tire stuck around its neck for over half a decade has finally been freed.
Referred to by locals as “buaya kalung ban” — the crocodile with a tire necklace — it first sparked concerns after being spotted by residents near the Palu River in 2016.
Video shot on Monday evening on the island of Sulawesi showed a crowd looking on as the rubber tire was sawed off while the crocodile’s jaws were bound in ropes. The crocodile was returned to the river later on Monday.
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The animal’s savior, a bird merchant in his 30s named Tili, said he tried several times over three weeks to remove the tire after baiting the animal with live poultry and snaring it with a rope.
“I caught the crocodile by myself. I was asking for help from people here but they were scared,” Tili, who goes by only one name like many Indonesians, told Reuters.
Onlookers cheered as the tire was finally removed.
“I didn’t learn this anywhere. I just can’t stand to see animals hurt. Even snakes, I will help,” Tili said.
Local officials and conservationist groups had become concerned the animal might have choked on the tire as it grew to its full size of 13 feet.
Previous attempts had tried and failed to free it. Australian crocodile wrangler Matt Wright had tried and failed to free the crocodile in 2020.
Indonesian authorities the same year had offered an unspecified award to anyone who could free the animal from its predicament, but canceled the competition after a month, citing a lack of interest and public safety concerns.