Thu, 30 Nov 2000

Crisis hits reptile and crocodile park

By Gin Kurniawan

BEDUGUL, Bali (JP): A strong and muscular man holding a stick appeared on a platform. His presence attracted dozens of hungry crocodiles which surrounded the platform.

A number of big crocodiles started to swing their tails against the man's body. The animals chased after him. One of the crocodiles attacked him and he tried hard to wrestle it off. Both the man and the crocodile got into a furious struggle.

The anticlimax, the duel ended happily. The man and the reptile became friends. It was not a real duel but a show staged daily at Taman Buaya dan Reptil Indonesia Jaya, a crocodile and reptile park in Bedugul district, near Denpasar, Bali.

The park is located on Jl. Raya Denpasar, Bedugul Km 23, in Badung regency. It's not hard to get there as it is located on the highway leading to Bedugul, a popular tourist destination.

"This show has proven that an animal, no matter how wild it is, is not dangerous if we know how to handle it," said As'ad, an animal trainer at the park.

This object of tourism is rather different from other objects of tourism in Bali which generally focuses on the fascinating natural and cultural heritage. "Here, visitors are invited to observe the crocodiles and other reptiles," added As'ad.

The crocodiles are separated according to their age and sex. Here people can also see a variety of snakes and Komodo dragons.

The park is a great tourist attraction but unfortunately, today it is in a dilapidated state. Wild grass grow everywhere in the park, even in the park's public facilities.

The park's management does not deny this.

"The park's construction is still incomplete. Its far from our target. The construction was halted when the economic crisis hit the country," As'ad maintained.

He added that the first phase of the park's construction started in l986. As'ad had designed the master plan which comprises the crocodile and reptile park, restaurants, stages and playground.

Despite its shortcomings, the park must strive to keep its limited facilities open, to attract visitors and bring in funds... of course, for the upkeep of the animals.