What does the future hold for Kinboo?

Meet the famous Nile crocodile, whom we Maldivians call “Kinboo”. The cage pictured here, has been Kinboo’s home since it was caught 15 years ago on February 14.

The year, 1998, in which the Kinboo was caught in the Maldivian waters, I had  just started school. The report of its capture brought a mixture of shock and delight.

Like everyone, both children and adults, I was curious to see a crocodile. After all, the famous predator is an alien species to the Maldive’s eco system. Before that day, the only crocodiles people had seen or heard were from movies and books. For me, it was the Peter Pan cartoon – the “tick tock” crocodile that wanted to eat villain Captain Hook is an all-time favorite of mine.

But all the pushing and fighting my way through to the front of the flock surrounding the cage on my visit to see the Kinboo turned out to be a big disappointment. Unlike I had imagined, Kinboo was so small that he was barely visible in the little enclosure built at the children’s park.  The water at the enclosure completely covered it.

I struggled to get a glimpse and, before I could, was soon pushed back by the eager crowd. From what I overheard, Kinboo did  not surface.

It was almost over decade later that I got to visit Kinboo for the second time. While living in Addu, I heard stories told by visitors from Male’ about how big the Kinboo had grown. But again, it was nothing like I expected. The sheer size of its growth left me in shock: “It is so big,” I said to my friends in bewilderment.

Once barely visible, Kinboo was now almost 10 feet long. The water in the cage barely covered its belly as it lay flat inside. Its long powerful tail was curled up to fit inside the roofed-cage that is no larger than 15 by10 feet. Pieces of papers and candy wrappers were scattered inside, most likely thrown by eager visitors in an attempt to get  Kinboo’s attention.

Thinking of all those years of captivity disturbed me. After few more looks I went home like other visitors, but the thought of Kinboo’s miserable life never faded away.

“Free Kinboo” is of course not a new subject for a story, as some may have already thought whilst reading this article. Yes, I am guilty of bringing you old news.

Yes, I also know campaigns were started to “Free Kinboo” years ago. Kinboo even has its own Facebook page, calling for its immediate release, and bloggers have often repeated the lonesome story of Kinboo.

Children from Billabong High EPSS International school embarked on a mission to save the Kinboo in 2010 and for a moment it seemed that the Kinboo was finally going to be freed.

But the purpose of writing this piece  is to remind readers that the mission failed. Kinboo continues to miss out on the world beyond the bars.

As we grow up, finish school, start jobs, cast votes and even witnessed three president’s in office – nothing has changed for Kinboo.

The life expectancy of a Nile crocodile in captivity can be up to 80 years. Will Kinboo still be in the same cage when we have retired or even passed away?

So now you may ask, “What can we do about that?”

Some may even respond,”There are more important issues like a coup to write about, rather than a dinosaur.” For the latter, I have a request. Put yourself in Kinboo’s shoes. But wait, Kinboo doesn’t have shoes, so I rephrase, put yourself in Kinboo’s cage for a moment. Now imagine that moment was 15 years.

What exactly can we do for the Kinboo?

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Director General Ibrahim Naeem believes there are two options.

“The first option is  to transfer the crocodile to a suitable zoo or wildlife park abroad, where it can be rehabilitated before being freed into the wild. Some efforts were made to rescue the crocodile. But it did not work for some reason,”  Ibrahim Naeem explained.

During the Billabong School’s mission to save the Kinboo, the school’s former Biology Teacher, Kate Wilson, wrote to an international agency in Australia, which rescues crocodiles that are injured or in bad condition.

Unfortunately, she never heard back from the agency.

“If we cannot work out a plan to rescue the crocodile,” Naeem said, “it should be killed”.

“It is indeed time we do something about the crocodile. We cannot keep it caged forever. Either we should kill it or move it to zoo in a foreign country,” he said. “It is costly to move the crocodile abroad. But the state also bears expenses to feed and keep the crocodile alive in the enclosure. So we have to decide,” he added.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), which oversees the crocodile, also expressed their discontentment at the prospect of keeping the animal caged for life.

“We don’t want to keep the crocodile inside the cage. It is there because no decision has been made otherwise. If possible we want to see what options we have,” said MNDF media official Lieutenant Abdullah Mohamed.

Friends with whom I shared the idea of  a “mercy killing” rejected it instantly, calling it “inhumane”.

But should we not take a moment to reconsider what exactly is inhumane. How long are we  to keep a living creature behind those bars for mere entertainment? Five more years? Maybe 20? Or until it dies naturally?

So I ask, how human are we to cherish our freedom, while the crocodile lies in a cage until death sets it free? A wise man once said, all that is needed for evil to triumph is good men to do nothing. Letting the crocodile suffer in cage is wrong, if not evil. It is time the authorities must decide.

Either kill Kinboo or free it.


17 thoughts on “What does the future hold for Kinboo?”

  1. Who are we to decide on taking life of living being, whether animal or human. The concerned should try talk to our neighbors, Sri Lanka or India to take it back. We can send the crocodile by sea and I am sure this will be more cost effective then sending it all the way to Australia. If one seriously think about freeing it, then it is not a big issue. We have to talk the shipping companies to take it freight free which I am sure most of them will agree. It takes a day or two to reach these destinations.

  2. I just think it is great that you have shown you care, and are asking yourself these sort of questions. Some kids at BHIS have been learning about folktales from around the world, and in particular folktales that have a moral message in them.

  3. I demand a protest be organised to free me ! Where is the Male city council, either free me or ill gobble you all ip

  4. His bowels will make a fitting end to our harlots and their blasphemous offspring. Alhamdulillaah!

  5. I propose we promote the Kimboo to State Executioner, and let it feed on the tyrants that have caged us today with their greed.

  6. Hawwa Lubna spoit the whole article by giving out killing as an option. Free Kinboo is all very well. But killing it? That's downright brutal and goes against the spirit of the article.

  7. Guess what DHL always get order like this. They are experts in shipping whales and other animals.

    These sluggish burocrats can't do anything right.

  8. at this point, the best thing for the kinboo seems to be euthanasia. rehabilitation may no longer be an option. too late for that?

    anyways, this is not the only kinboo here. it was back then, but not anymore. what happened to the other ones?

    but what do we achieve by killing it? we are not exactly the type of people who care about where our chicken come from. we just check if there is 'halal' written on it and we it without even thinking for a second about what those animals suffer. numerous cats, hungry cats running around city and dying on the streets, nobody cares. but one life, is still a life. and it will be a symbol of freedom for all.

  9. If freeing it is not possible, i do not see why the second option should not be, to make is a better enclosure. I don't see why killing it has to be the only option. Maldivians love seeing the Kinboo, i don't think we would mind a few more of our tax dollars going in the way to make the kinboo celebrity a nice suitable home, perhaps even with other companions.

  10. Yes ! I demand a new home ! Preferably a flat, with airconditioning and 4 meals a day, with space for a female crocodile as well. If not SNAPS JAW .....

  11. killing it is not a good option. We should make a suitable place for it. Otherwise send it to Australia which has suitable habitats for it.

  12. For a compensation for my 15 years ileagal imprisionment without charges , I demand two additional female Jariyaa kinboo.

  13. Free kinboo was not a big issue then why any action has not been taken...let say anyone have not think seriously... is this a joke... Before also this issue has been taken when cage has been destroyed by the kinboo itself and they build it again in a better way foe safety.... but is it safe still?
    let talk about the other option to kill it.

    why it is so inhumane? to keep in cage is it not inhumane? day by day it is dying in that cage....lets keep a human in a small cage. no space to move easily lets realize it for 21 years or more how we human feel if i say like this some may going to think it a animal we are human.... but life has been given both by Allah... why we forget about it. if we keep it longer and what if it dies in the cage. blame still be on us...if we humans have right to see the freedom why cant a crocodile. if no freedom still we are killing it...


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