Wild or captive dilemma?

I know the wild vs. captive issue has been discussed numerous times on the forum, but I’m not sure in this specific case, so I’d rather ask before uploading.
I’ve visited a lake full of crocodiles next to a Sufi shrine in Pakistan today. You can read about the place here: https://dailytimes.com.pk/346932/manghopir-the-crocodile-shrine/
There are scientific data proving that the crocs have been there for at least hundreds (likely thousands) of years, before the arrival of people. So the population itself is natural and not introduced. On the other hand, now it’s a holy place and people bring meat to the crocs in hope that their prayers would be accepted. I’m quite sure the population would be much smaller if it wasn’t for food being brought by pilgrims. So… are these cute crocs wild or captive? :) Thanks for your thoughts!

Seems like they’re perfectly capable of leaving if they chose, which I would interpret as wild. Otherwise we’d have to start asking this question about birds at a feeder, for instance.


Very interesting place and question, thank you for sharing. There is a paper done on the Crocodiles of Pakistan by Muhammad Sherief Khan and he mentions the plight of this lake https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332353768_Crocodiles_in_Pakistan. According to him, this is a Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris. Scientists think that a few crocodiles were washed away from River Indus only eighty years ago. Naturally, it is not discussed in the paper if he considers them wild or not, but he does mention that the lake is small and unhealthy for almost 100 crocodiles.

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Thank you very much for sharing this paper with me, it’s very interesting. The other sources I’ve read claim there are fossil remains suggesting the presence of crocodiles in this lake thousands of years ago, but even if it happened just 80 years ago, the origin of this population is still natural. Another thing is that the way this population is now clearly isn’t natural - the small lake is overcrowded by crocs and looks polluted.
According to my guide, sometimes, at the request of government authorities, they would move some juveniles to protected areas around Sindh Province in order to increase the wild population. He also said there was a food shortage for the crocs during the Covid-19 lockdown when pilgrims couldn’t bring meat regularly. So whether they’re wild or captive is a tricky question, but for sure it’s a fascinating place, both from naturalist and sociologist point of view.


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