A British tourist is believed to have been killed by a Crocodile attack near Arugam Bayon the southeast coast of Sri Lanka on Thursday 14 September 2017. The man has been identified as Paul McClean, 24, a journalist with the Financial Times in London. Witnesses from a local village reported seeing Mr McLean being dragged into a river while he was washing his hands. They summoned a group of other tourists who had just completed a surfing lesson, but a search for him proved unsuccessful. A body, believed to be Mr McLean, was later recovered from the river by divers from the Sri Lanka Navy. Local villagers report that there have been a number of attacks by Crocodiles on people in the last year, but this is the first known fatality.
British journalist Paul McLean, killed by a Crocodile in Sri Lanka on 14 September 2017. Financial Times/AP.
Sri Lanka is home to two species of Crocodile, the Mugger Crocodile, Crocodylus palustris, and the Saltwater Crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, and it is unclear which was responsible for the 14 September attack. Crocodile attacks on Humans are relatively rare, but they are opportunistic ambush predators and will potentially attack anything going close to the water. Saltwater Crocodiles have a particularly poor reputation for such behaviour, being the largest species of Crocodile and notoriously aggressive. However, while Saltwater Crocodiles are one of the few Crocodile species not considered vulnerable to extinction, being found from India to Australia and inhabiting many areas that Humans shun, such as Mangrove forests and islands without fresh water, but are relatively uncommon in Sri Lanka. Mugger Crocodiles are considered Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, formerly having been found across much of South Asia, but now probably absent from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan, and greatly reduced in number in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Iran. In Sri Lanka, however, the species is still numerous. Mugger Crocodiles are a much smaller species than Saltwater Crocodiles, and do not usually attack prey as large as Humans. However such an animal would be consistent with local stories of several failed attacks on Humans before a successful attack, as few people manage to escape from the much larger Saltwater Crocodile.
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