Caiman in the backyard.
By Nadia Ali. Living in the Caribbean you expect to see tropical birds and creepy insects that are larger than life in the garden. I often run outside when I hear the familiar squawk of wild parrots flying above, but when the bushes rustle on the border fence where has a long river drain that joins the Caroni River… I know to be cautious!
During my busy day, I noticed our cat sitting at the back of the garden staring down into the long river drain at the tall grass and bush. I ventured into the garden approaching quietly because I knew the cat was obviously looking at something.
I couldn’t see anything. Staring harder trying to make sense of the colours, I saw the long grass moved. Oh my goodness, something really was there! I thought. I stood motionless staring down again. There it was long and dark…
“A CAIMAN!” I shouted and ran frantically back to the house to gather the rest of the family, not forgetting to grab my camera to capture the moment.
They came out, trying not to sound like a herd of elephants running towards the caiman which was still there. It was amazing to see, close-up in the wild! I felt scared and excited at the same time.
The caiman made for some great photos
Of course, it made us wonder if it was alone or if there were more.
The caiman made for some great photos and sparked new interest in finding out more about the species. Realising it wasn’t going anywhere, we returned to the house and I to my laptop.
According to the online Encyclopaedia Britannica, the caiman or cayman refers to reptiles of Central and South American origin. They belong to the Alligatoridae family and live both in water and on land. The females lay hard-shelled eggs in nests which they guard. The caiman is considered shy unless antagonised.
During the rainy season in Trinidad, it is not uncommon to view caimans at the side of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, which is the major north-south highway. This is because the Caroni Swamp is located on the western coast and the excess water of heavy rain sees the caimans migrating to roadway drains and backyard ponds. In fact, according to local newspapers in 2014, a seven-foot caiman was discovered in a backyard in Gopaul Lands, San Fernando! Luckily, it was captured by game wardens and released unhurt back into the wild.
Fortunately, for us there is a fence between us and the Caroni River bound drain that lies behind our house. The caiman that had stationed itself behind our house stayed for a full day and was gone the next morning. It brought much excitement, great photos and a better understanding of the plight of caiman crocodilus.
August 2015 – Issue 17 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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