In Iran, social media users have fallen in love with an eight-year-old boy named Zakaria who saved a baby marsh crocodile from certain death. The crocodile had got caught in a dried up lake near the boy’s home village in the southeast of the country, which has been affected by a severe drought.
The heartwarming story was first shared online by an Iranian park ranger on August 15, but the actual event took place on August 3. Eight-year-old Zakaria lives in Rikoukesh, a village near Chabahar, the capital of the Sistan and Baluchestan province. Nearby, he discovered a baby marsh crocodile stranded far from water.
Marsh crocodiles – also called mugger crocodiles – usually live in small freshwater lakes and rivers in Iran. However, a drought has enveloped the province of Sistan and Baluchestan and lots of these water systems are drying up. That’s how this baby found itself stranded in a dry lake bed.
According to the Iranian park ranger who posted a photo of Zakaria and the crocodile on Instagram, the little boy climbed down into the lake bed to grab the small crocodile and then brought him to rangers.
The rescue was even more significant as there is a dwindling number of marsh crocodiles in the wild; it is classified as a vulnerable species.
Zakaria meets park rangers in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan.
In a later post on social media, the park ranger who first shared the story said that many Iranians had reached out to him to congratulate the little boy. Some had donated money for his studies or offered to help out his village, which has suffered from the drought.
The rangers awarded Zakaria an honorary title for his service to wildlife. He is the youngest person in the province to have ever been thus honoured.
>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: Iranians help starving animals amid severe drought