Indonesian Fisherman Forms Affectionate Bond With 13-ft-Long Crocodile

Fifty-six-year-old Ambo, a resident of Guntung River Estuary in East Kalimantan, displays an extraordinary bond with Rizka, treating the four-meter saltwater crocodile with the same affection one would give to a pet fish, turtle, or any other aquatic creature.

Contrary to the terrifying image often associated with crocodiles in movies like the “Crocodile Dundee” series or wildlife documentaries, Rizka appears more like Flipper the dolphin than a fearsome predator.

For over two decades, Rizka has been an integral part of Ambo’s life. “If I don’t see her for two or three days, I would go looking for her,” he remarks from his home on a Sunday. “I treat her as my own child.”

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The beginning of their unique friendship can be traced back to an encounter Ambo had 23 years ago while on a boat in the Pupuk Kaltim area. “She was then only about a meter long, so I ignored her as I made my way home,” Ambo recalls. “But I noticed that [Rizka] followed the vessel home. I even saw her next to the boat, which I also named Rizka. I called her over to give something to eat, and she came around. She has since been doing that.”

Rizka frequently visits Ambo’s house when hunger strikes. “I habitually give Rizka three chickens. Once she has been fed, she swims away,” he shares. When Ambo needs to leave the village, he arranges for his neighbors to feed Rizka in his absence.

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“I had to get neighbors to look after Rizka after my wife told me once that the croc came around when I was away,” Ambo explains. “This was how we got Rizka fed regularly when I had to go away for work in the provincial capital Samarinda. Local fishermen passing by also give her some of their catch.”

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After spending two years away for work, Ambo made the decision to return and dedicate himself full-time to caring for Rizka. He advises locals who wish to feed the crocodile to treat her with respect to ensure no one gets hurt. As a result of their daily interactions, Rizka has never attacked or bitten Ambo.

“I love Rizka very much as I have cared for her since she was small,” Ambo expresses. “Sure, the fear is there. But my ancestors believed that one can bond with crocodiles and other animals as if we have familial relations with them.”

Follow Ambo and Riska on their official Instagram.

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