It's not very easy to distinguish legitimate videos from fake ones these days, and such is the case of a recently posted video of a massive alligator strolling through Polk County Discovery Center's reserve in Florida. However, experts were quick to react saying that the video is most likely real and that, incredible as it seems, alligators do have the capacity to grow that huge.
This truly massive alligator was spotted casually walking across a path in Central Florida. The locals call it "Hunchback." pic.twitter.com/rBMt6JwtQ4
— CNN (@CNN) January 17, 2017
The creature was later identified as an American alligator, the males of which grow significantly larger than the females. Many experts believe that alligators have the capability to grow throughout their whole lives, which in some cases can last for up to 70 years.
It's no wonder many were skeptical about the video when it hit the internet, especially considering the sheer size of the alligator. Nevertheless, in this particular case, massive as the gator in the video was, wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist David A. Steen says it's still not nearly as huge as the largest recorded alligator caught in Alabama at 14 feet.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict
This incidence in Florida is not the nearly the first time that wild animals have been seen in places where humans reside. As the human population continues to expand, animal habitats continue to shrink, leaving them displaced.
In places such as Namibia, the human-wildlife conflict is more severe as it endangers both the humans and the animals. In cases of such conflicts, the humans' properties and even lives are placed in danger as animals are oblivious to boundaries, while the animals' lives are endangered as the humans protect themselves. Supplementary to this conflict is the demand for animal mead and merchandise.
Such is the case for the American alligators once grew even larger than they do today. When humans came into their territory either for sport or produce, their numbers dwindled down to the point of being on the brink of extinction. It was only after massive preservation efforts that their number began to increase again until they were listed off the endangered animals list in 1987.
In the case of this sighting, the folks who shot the video got a glimpse of the giant in a nature reserve. What's impressive about the video is not the sheer size of the gator that they captured, but the fact that from nearly being extinct, these American alligators are now capable of growing yet again to massive sizes. The protection and conservation efforts that once saved the species from extinction is now giving them the ability to grow to full maturity and in peace in a safe habitat.