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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world

20 die in air disaster after smuggled crocodile escapes on a plane

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crocodileWildlife smugglers will do just about anything for a quick buck, including sneaking a live predator onto an airplane with no regard for the risk to the animal or fellow passengers. This illegal activity reached a devastating and absurdist extreme recently when a man reportedly smuggled a live crocodile onto a plane departing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The crocodile got loose, the crew and passengers panicked, and the plane crashed, killing 20 people.

Oddly enough, the crocodile survived the crash, only to be hacked to death by machete-wielding locals on the ground.

Only one passenger lived to bear witness to the events. The unnamed survivor was interviewed by the France-based African news magazine Jeune Afrique, where he said the crocodile was smuggled onto the plane in a sports bag. When the croc escaped, the passengers reportedly rushed toward the cockpit, throwing the plane off balance, the man claimed.

The magazine also reported the crocodile had been intended for resale, although how the crash survivor knew this remains unclear. The incident occurred August 25, but initial reports said the plane had simply run out of fuel.

ITN News has video of the crash site on YouTube.

None of the reports identify the species of crocodile, but the DRC is home to the rare subspecies known as the Congo, or Osborn's, dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis osborni).

Photo by Sias van Schalkwyk via Stock.xchng

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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