Indian villagers in the state of Uttar Pradesh were initially alarmed when they found a crocodile lurking in the local pond. But then they hatched a plan to demand a ransom.
Monsoon flood waters brought the eight-foot reptile from a nearby nature reserve in Midania on Tuesday.
Anil Patel, an official responsible for the buffer zone around the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve told AFP that the locals caught the crocodile and then demanded INR₹ 50,000 (US$ 700) to give it back.
“It took us hours to convince them with help from local police and authorities to release the crocodile,” Mr Patel said.
The villagers were also threatened with legal action, with officials explaining that they risked being jailed for up to seven years
“We released it into the Ghagra river the same day,” Mr Patel said.
“They had no idea that the crocodile was a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Act. It’s important for us to educate more people about wildlife,” he added.