Indonesian crocodile finally freed from motorbike tire stuck around its neck for 6 years

The crocodile with a motorbike tire trapped around its neck pictured on July 1, 2021, in a river near Palu in Indonesia. (Image credit: Mohamad Hamzah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A 13-foot-long (4 meters) crocodile on an Indonesian island has been freed from an unflattering and potentially harmful motorbike tire that had been stuck around its neck for at least six years. A local man who captured the behemoth in a handmade trap managed to remove the rubbery necklace. 

The lengthy crocodile lives in a river near the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi and is known by locals as "buaya kalung ban," meaning "crocodile with a tire necklace." Individuals first spotted the croc in 2016, and since then local conservationists have made two failed attempts to catch the animal and remove the tire. Professional crocodile wranglers from Australia also flew to Indonesia to try to catch the elusive reptile, but came up empty-handed, according to ABC News

On Feb. 7, a 35-year-old local man named Tili finally managed to catch the crocodile in a makeshift trap, which consisted of a rope tied to a log with live chickens and ducks being used as bait. Tilli had been tracking the croc for the previous three weeks and came close to catching his target on two occasions before finally snagging the slippery critter, according to Reuters.

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Local people, including firefighters, prepare the crocodile for its release after removing the tire from its neck. (Image credit: Faldi Muhammad/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"Many people were skeptical about me and thought I was not serious," Tili told Reuters. "I was asking for help from people here, but they were scared."

After Tili caught the crocodile and dragged it to shore, a large group of locals, including firefighters, assembled to watch and assist in cutting the tire free from the reptile's scaly neck. After being liberated, the crocodile was released back into the river. Video of the rescue was shared on Twitter by RTE News.

In January 2020, a local conservation group offered a reward to anyone who could catch the crocodile and help free it. However, Tili claims he did not do it for the money. "I just can't stand to see animals hurt," Tili told Reuters. "Even snakes, I will help."

Originally published on Live Science.

Harry Baker
Senior Staff Writer

Harry is a U.K.-based senior staff writer at Live Science. He studied marine biology at the University of Exeter before training to become a journalist. He covers a wide range of topics including space exploration, planetary science, space weather, climate change, animal behavior, evolution and paleontology. His feature on the upcoming solar maximum was shortlisted in the "top scoop" category at the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Awards for Excellence in 2023.