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Israel hunts for crocodile on the run, after tip from Jordan

Jordanian army informs IDF that reptile was spotted in tributary of Jordan River, setting off search

The crocodile farm in Hamat Gader, a valley in north Israel, in the border with Jordan and Syria, October, 14, 2008. (Jorge Novominsky/File)
Illustrative: A crocodile farm in Hamat Gader, a valley in north Israel, in the border with Jordan and Syria, October, 14, 2008. (Jorge Novominsky)

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said Sunday it was hunting for a crocodile, after being alerted that the dangerous reptile was on the loose along the border with Jordan.

The Jordanian Army informed the Israel Defense Forces that a crocodile was seen in the Yarmouk River, the largest tributary for the Jordan River, Channel 12 News reported.

The parks authority confirmed to the station that it had been alerted that there could be a crocodile lurking between Sha’ar HaGolan and the small northern community of Masada (not to be confused with the Dead Sea-area desert fortress).

However, there was no danger expected to people, as the Jordanians spotted the crocodile in a part of the river that is beyond the border fence, Channel 12 reported.

The INPA said it was coordinating with the army on the matter in an effort to verify the information, while also checking up with operators of a crocodile farm operated as a tourist attraction at a Hamat Gader hot springs spa.

“The authority is working with the army to get permission to cross the [border] fence in order to carry out searches in the area,” the INPA said in a statement.

The warning was also passed on to security coordinators at the Emek Hayarden Regional Council which oversees communities in the area. Security officials were told to stay alert and follow up on any sightings by residents in the area, the station reported.

Crocodiles are no longer native to Israel, since the last were killed by hunters in the early 20th century, but various tourists farms house the reptiles, including those at Hamat Gader.

One farm, located in the Jordan valley, made international news after it failed as a tourist attraction, but left owners with an ever-growing crocodile population — said to top 700 specimens — that it struggled to dispose of.

Last November, a 4-year-old boy was hospitalized with a serious arm injury after he was bitten by a crocodile at a farm for the reptiles in the south of the country.

In 2015, an escaped crocodile was captured near Caesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The animal was believed to have escaped from a nearby crocodile farm.

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