On the 8th of April, 2023, this publication published a Facebook Post warning the general public of sightings of a caiman at the National Park in Georgetown, Region 4, Guyana, South America. The Facebook Post was made after a citizen sent in the photos and asked us to make a post warning the general public of the potential danger. The post reads:
Caiman spotted in the pond at the National Park in Georgetown. This photo was sent in by a concerned citizen to warn others. We wish to advise the general population that the caiman is dangerous and aggressive. It tends to leap out of the water, lock its victim in its terrible mouth and drag it back into the water. The caiman attacks both adults and children. A few weeks ago, a Rupununi youth sadly lost part of his right arm in a caiman attack.
The post went viral reaching over 100,000 people and garnering over 250 comments. We soon received an email from the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission which reads:
My name is Deuel Hughes, Communications Officer of the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission. Reference is hereby made to the Facebook post made by your page on Saturday, April 8, 2023. (https://www.facebook.com/guyanasouthamerica/photos/pcb.1407955519952529/1407955429952538)
We would like to point out that the information which is shared in the post can be misleading and contribute to misconceptions which the general public may have about caimans. We therefore would like to highlight the following information which
– There are four species of caiman found in Guyana – spectacled, black, cuvier’s dwarf, and schneider’s dwarf caiman. The caiman in the National Park is a spectacled caiman.
– Caimans have been in the National Park for a while and contribute to maintaining the ecosystem of the park
– It is highly unlikely for a caiman to attack a human ‘just like that.’ In our experiences, conflicts between humans and caimans occur either due to fishing activities or during the mating season when the caiman gets more aggressive
. We have found that humans have been attacked by caimans in the following instances: fishermen being attacked due to a caiman being entangled in the seine or the caiman trying to access fish in a seine for food, persons swimming/bathing close to a nest. Based on the information presented above, we would be extremely grateful if you can either retract the post made, or provide an update which can assist in clearing misconceptions about this species among your many followers.
Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission
(Edited slightly for grammar and punctuation)
This publication responded to the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission as follows:
Hi Mr. Hughes,
I admit that the post was poorly written as I was a bit overworked and overwhelmed at the time of posting it, and I didn’t do any research into the subject before posting it. A fan of the page sent in the photos and asked to post it to warn people of the potential danger. Although this purpose was served, it might have been done in a very unscrupulous manner.
I understand your passion for wildlife and wildlife preservation, and how a post like this can be offensive to you. However, my greatest concern is to save a potential human victim of the caiman from losing life or limb even though the possibility of attack might be minimal.
I’m least concerned about the image I paint about life-threatening predators which have the potential to kill, maim, and in other ways harm other animals or humans.
Nevertheless, I will try to best to revise the post according to your advice.
Team Guyana, South America advises all persons to exercise due caution in or near to waters which caimans inhabit.