This New Year brought new life for two alligators in Brazil after they had a narrow escape from death.
The two reptiles, one measuring about a metre long and the other around two metres, were due to be killed and barbecued for a New Year's Eve party. But fortunately, instead of being served on a dinner table they were rescued in an operation by local authorities, the Daily Mail reported.
The environmental police who rescued the animals said that they had been poached from Lake Novo in Tartarugalzinho, in northern Brazil, on Thursday (28 December) night. A suspect with the alligators was caught with his illegal cargo at dawn after authorities stopped him to check his vehicle in the upland marshy area.
Lieutenant Bryan Fonseca said that initially the accused had denied the presence of the gators inside his car. "He tried to circumvent the surveillance by saying he wasn't carrying anything in the back of his vehicle. However, when we opened the trunk, we found two alligators. They were tied up and wrapped in plastic bags," he said.
"We told him to take them out and place them on the ground. The creatures looked like they were in a state of shock after being trapped and thrown into a dark boot because they didn't fight, struggle or react. The suspect told us he was on his way to Macapa where the animals would be consumed at a supper at the turn of the year," Lt Fonseca added.
Macapa is the capital city of Amapa state in Brazil and is a 203km journey from the place where officers caught the accused. It is very unlikely that the reptiles would have survived that long journey, officers said.
"The driver has been charged with an environmental crime, which prohibits hunting, catching, transporting and killing any wildlife species without the permission or knowledge of the competent authorities," Lt Fonseca was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
If found guilty, the suspect could face up to a year in prison.
The animals have now been released into their natural habitat following an examination, which confirmed no life-threatening injuries.