It's not uncommon for residents of Eastern St Thomas to have sparse encounters with crocodiles, but a recent demand for the reptiles is causing young fishermen from the area to go searching for them as customers, the majority of whom are Chinese, flock the agricultural communities to buy crocodile meat.
The men, at times, take huge risks like plunging into a murky crocodile-infested section of the Plantain Garden River, close to Holland Bay, to get crocodiles from the water, one of the fishermen, who asked to be anonymous.
supply and demand
With customers coming from as far as St Elizabeth, the fisherman said he gets orders to catch crocodiles two or three times each month.
"We don't just go catch dem like dat. We have to get orders. When we get orders we just go down there and catch dem," the fisherman said. "People come from Morant Bay, Bath and even down the line, Clarendon and St Elizabeth to come and buy."
The fisherman said most of his customers are of Chinese descent. "Black man buy dem too enuh, but a mostly Chinese," the fisherman said.
Selling for $2,000 a pound, the fishermen said he is able to send his children to school when he is not able to get a "good catch of fish."
He said: "When you catch a 250 pound croc you can mek a decent money from dat."
MASTERING THE CONCEPT
very dangerous and risky
Although he has had encounters when he would hook a crocodile and had to let it go because he and his colleagues aren't able to pull it from the water, the fisherman said once you have mastered the concept of catching a crocodile, it is relatively easy.
"It nuh hard. What we do is use steel to mek hook," he explained. "Then we get a common fowl, cut the neck and throw it deh and dem come running in."
He continued: "So what we do is same like when you a kill cow. We tie the rope around him neck, draw him around the tree and cut him throat. After we drain out the blood out of him, we skin him, then cut it up."
He said it requires five or six men to pull in some of the crocodiles from the water to the slaughtering tree. "Some of dem rough man. Dem flick up like when you catch a big fish and him a try run," he said.
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT PLANNING AGENCY
According to NEPA, crocodile consumption is illegal in Jamaica.
"Crocodiles are endangered species worldwide. Crocodiles should not be hunted or captured, killed or in anyway be harassed," Rosemarie Lee, manager of public education and corporate communication at NEPA, said.
"It is also illegal to have in your possession, the whole or any part of a crocodile without a special permission from NEPA. The penalty for disobeying this law is $100,000 or 12 months imprisonment."