Meet the croc whisperer

MALACCA - The presence of crocodiles has not stopped fisherman Zainal Ali from catching giant freshwater shrimps in Sungai Linggi.

Zainal, 60, has spotted crocodiles numerous times since he first started catching shrimps.

"I just follow the golden rule passed down by my ancestors that is do not provoke the crocodiles or panic upon seeing them.

"They had also told me not to scream buaya when the creatures approach the hull of my boat but to instead pacify them by asking their permission through a ritual before casting the net along the banks," he said during one of his trips yesterday.

Accompanying him was his 29-year-old assistant Mohd Fuad Roslan.

The father of three from Perkampungan Lokan, Kg Paya Lear in Masjid Tanah said as far as he knew, there had been no crocodile attacks on fishermen along the river.

Zainal said another taboo to observe when cruising along Sungai Linggi was not to speak ill of Mother Nature and to give any crocodile a wave of the hand as a sign of respect.

He said crocodiles were often spotted at the places where shrimps thrived, adding that five species of the crustacean could be found along the banks.

"Our target is the giant shrimps or udang galah, which fetch a lucrative price in the local market," he said, adding that they could fetch up to RM50 (S$20) per kilo.

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