Greek farmers are “upset and afraid” after a 6-foot (1.82-metre) crocodile mysteriously appeared in a man-made lake on the island of Crete.
Water from the in-land lake and surrounding rivers are used by residents of the nearby seaside town of Rethymno, but reported sightings of the dangerous reptile left them too scared to go near the area.
Video footage captured by an unmanned drone flown over the lake appeared to show the large crocodile floating on the surface, before diving down out of sight with a flick of its tail.
Local land-owners have also blamed the animal for missing ducks and even lambs, and police have now taped off access to the lake until the crocodile can be removed by wildlife officials.
Speaking to APTN, Nikistratos Charokopou said: “The locals are very upset because they are in danger. There are farm lands and properties nearby and people are in danger, they are afraid.
“There are rivers from which people draw water to irrigate their fields, and they are afraid to visit their land.”
Another local described how he was driving past when he saw the commotion involving firemen and police officers. He said he had a camera in his car and was able to capture footage of the beast from a distance.
Indeed, not everybody is annoyed by the reptile’s mysterious appearance. Souvenir shops in the area have reportedly recognised the new local celebrity by selling inflatable crocodiles.
A drone hunts 'the Crete crocodile'
Crocodiles are not native to Greece or indeed Europe, though they are common across many parts of Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Regional official Vangelis Mamangakis said this week that it was unclear how long the animal has been there. He said the crocodile was most likely a pet that grew too big for its owner, who then “thought it would be a good idea to dump it in the lake”.
Mamangakis told Antenna TV that parts of the lake have successfully been fenced off and that efforts to remove the crocodile will start on Thursday.