We had the good fortune to run across a full-grown crocodile crossing the highway (exiting from Panjim-Mapusa road and heading towards Nachnola) in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, we made a little more nose than we should have and scared the reptile back into the marsh before we could get a picture.
Nature lovers would take that as a good omen, as crocodiles are usually only spotted along the upper stretches of the Zuari and Mandovi rivers – along the Cumbarjua Creek. The next morning, I called in and spoke to some wildlife enthusiasts and they told me that there has been an increase in crocodile numbers in the state, which is good. My brother had had a similar experience when driving from Saloi (off Britonna) one night. But on the other hand, the presence of the reptiles in a populated and busy area is always worrying as this could lead to possible conflict with the locals. It is obvious that the animal knows his way around and probably takes the same route to cross on a regular basis. The embankment out of the marsh is relatively high, but dark enough with the tree cover to let the reptile cross.
Interestingly, the crocodiles found in Goa (Crocodylus palustris) are actually freshwater crocodiles and they have gradually adapted themselves to survive in the saline conditions of the estuarine marshes.
It made our evening though… I am sure we could have seen some really huge muggers on a crocodile watching trip, but the thrill of seeing one waiting to run across a busy but dark highway, certainly gave me a rush. I only hope that that croc and the others who love to cross such roads look to the right, and to the left and then to the right again before they cross the road.