Mystery crocodile sightings captivate central Germany

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Mystery crocodile sightings captivate central Germany
A helicopter takes part in a search for a crocodile along the Unstrut river in central Germany. Image: DPA

Along a river in central Germany, something scaly has been scaring horses and confusing fishermen.


Swimming and fishing were banned and the police were brought in to search after a number of crocodile sightings along the river Umstrut in Thuringia, central Germany. 

On Sunday, police and the local fire brigade used a boat equipped with a thermo-imaging camera, a helicopter and a drone to search a 12-kilometre stretch of the river after a number of sightings. 

A similar search for a crocodile seen in the river was called off in late August. 

Police sent out a warning via an app on Sunday to local residents to tell them about the crocodile, while riverside cycle paths were closed. 

The search came to an end late on Sunday evening, with a police spokesperson telling DPA “you couldn’t make any determinations in any way” about the location or the existence of the crocodile. 

Authorities closed locks on each side of the river where the crocodile was seen in order to prevent it travelling further. 

District fire inspector Jonas Weller told German tabloid Bild “we take the threat very seriously”. 


‘Very plausible: I assume the crocodile is there’

Several callers reported sightings of the reptile to the police on Sunday afternoon until early evening. 

A horse breeder told police she had seen the crocodile near Schönewerda, around 100 kilometres west of Leipzig, on Sunday. 

She said her animals shied away from the two-metre long crocodile, who sat on the river with its mouth open before sliding back into the water. 

Fishermen told local media they were certain the animal was a crocodile and n"due to its jagged tail". 

The MDR Thüringen media outlet said police had found “traces” that could have possibly come from the crocodile on Sunday. 

Götz Ulrich (CDU), the district administrator, told the MDR “it is very plausible and I assume that the crocodile is actually there”. 

A swimming and fishing ban in the region will remain in place in the region. 

Animal conservationists also took part in the search.

Weller said that despite the findings, no further searches would be conducted in the coming days. Authorities will meet on Monday to decide how to proceed. 



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