Malaysian wildlife officials had to euthanize a giant crocodile weighing more than 1,000 pounds during an attempt to remove it from a small town when they discovered it had been shot in the head.
Crocodiles are protected in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on Borneo island, a tropical lowland region where rainforests and thousands of native wildlife species thrive in abundance. But recent years have seen an increase in cases of human-wildlife conflict in urban areas.
The giant reptile, which had to be removed with a forklift, was spotted in a storm drain behind a school past midnight on Tuesday in the small town of Limbang, located along the banks of a river on the island in East Malaysia.
Members of the public alerted the fire and rescue department, which proceeded to locate and safely restrain the animal before handing it over to local authorities.
Officials examining the crocodile discovered several gunshot wounds on its head, and ultimately decided to euthanize the suffering reptile on Thursday. They believe it was shot by a local resident.
The massive carcass drew crowds of curious onlookers as it was carried to be buried at an undisclosed location within a nature sanctuary located on the outskirts of town, reported The Star newspaper.
"This is a case of killing protected species," Zolkipli Mohamad Aton from the Sarawak Forestry Corporation said in a statement, which described the crocodile's injuries as severe and expressed disappointment at the "lack of public consciousness."
"It should have been secured from escaping and reported to the relevant authorities for further action. We don't want this to be a norm where the public can simply kill protected species and report it as endangering their lives."
In a separate response to VICE News, a representative from the group confirmed on Friday, Nov. 13 that investigations were underway.