Osama and Fidel, crocodiles patrolling their territory in Costa Rica

After several minutes of travel, Jason adjusts his telescope and nods. “It exists,” he says. The head of “Osama”, one of the 2,000 American crocodiles living on the Targolles River in Costa Rica, is mimicked by mud and stones.

According to guide Jason Vargas, they baptized this crocodile as Osama to mark the disappearance of al Qaeda leader because it is always difficult to find out when a tourist’s trip goes by boat.

“We identify some of them by the territory in which they usually live, so they have funny names like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Bush, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump, Selena Gomez and many more,” says Vargas. 43. age, and whom they call the “crocodile man.”

The sighting of crocodiles at the mouth of the Targols River in the Pacific is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the province of Carabido in western Costa Rica.

Surrounded by swamps, the 118-kilometer-long river can be visited by tourists by boat, where migratory birds and macaws rest.

Some male crocodiles, such as “Osama bin Laden”, may be 80 years old and up to 6 meters long, defending their territory even when fighting a part of their body. Osama lost one eye in the fight.

– politely –

Above the river, he goes in search of “Captain Hook” because he lost an arm fighting for his place. Invisible this time. However, “Fidel” appears to be abbreviated.

Osama, accustomed to passing visitors, approaches the boat with caution. Jason approaches him with the same or more caution.

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For example, a fish-like animal makes sure to keep certain foods in its mouth so it can only be touched with minimal risk.

Earlier, “Monica” approached a 15-year-old crocodile and a one and a half meter long crocodile. They usually feed on high tide marine fish and river fish. A rancher in the area complained that the cow was missing.

“You don’t have to trust yourself. You have to have the respect and everything in God’s hands so that nothing happens to you every day,” said Jason, who wears a necklace with three crocodile teeth recovered from the river. Has been doing this work for 20 years.

Tourism is one of the economic machines of the country, a paradise for beach, nature and eco-enthusiasts. Govt-19 hit the sector hard, trying to recover.

According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), more than 1.3 million tourists entered in 2021, a recovery compared to 2020 but far from the more than 3 million that came in 2019.

“This is the first time I’ve seen crocodiles, it was amazing and I never expected to be so close to them,” says Johan Snell, 37, who moved to Costa Rica with his family.

Those who do not go on tour usually stand on the nearby bridges and sometimes sunbathe, appreciating how the crocodiles come out in groups, staying in the mud on the shore. After a while they sink into the water and are covered by electricity.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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