World War II Ramree Island Incident

In February 1945 Japanese military forces were surrounded by the British and Indian military and were forced to retreat into the extensive mangrove swamps separating Ramree Island from mainland Burma (Myanmar) in what is modern-day Rakhine state. At the time, these mangroves were home to a population of saltwater crocodiles. Around 1000 Japanese soldiers are believed to have entered the swamp and it is claimed that only 20 escaped, with a large portion of the victims being killed by crocodiles. A 1998 investigation into this incident determined that the majority of deaths were likely due to gunfire, suicide, drowning, disease, and starvation. Only 10-15 soldiers are now believed to have been killed by crocodiles, rather than the hundreds of deaths claimed. Sadly, saltwater crocodiles were eradicated from the Ramree Island mangroves (and the rest of Rakhine state) during the later half of the 20th Century. For more information, see Platt et al. 1998 Man Eating by Estuarine Crocodiles: The Ramree Island Massacre Revisited.