Cape Town - While 50 crocodiles can be accounted for, following their escape from a farm outside of Bonnievale last week, CapeNature will lead an investigation it how the escape happened.
The organisation said that while an unknown number of sub-adult Nile crocodiles escaped from a facility on Wednesday morning, night patrols on the Bree river are ongoing with CapeNature partnering with a SAPS diving team, the facility owner and neighbouring land owners in recapturing the escaped reptiles.
The SAPS availed four boats and eight police divers to assist in the nocturnal patrols searching for the escaped animals. CapeNature said that although several humane cages with bait were put out in a first attempt to recapture the animals, the method was not effective.
“The animals have access to an abundance of food in the river and hence they do not need to hunt for food.
“The overgrown river and dense vegetation on the riverbanks also make it very difficult to recapture these crocodiles. As time is of the essence, CapeNature and the search party partners were left no choice, but to euthanise seven of the crocodiles spotted,” said spokesperson Petro van Rhyn.
“Although crocodiles are indigenous to South Africa, they are not part of the natural fauna of the Western Cape.”
CapeNature chief executive Dr Razeena Omar said she was saddened by the extreme measure this operation required, but that “CapeNature regards the safety of the surrounding community first and foremost, which further accentuates the urgency of the recapturing of these wild animals”.
“The situation remains fluid and the recapturing techniques have to be effective in the best interest of public safety.
“The onus remains on wildlife owners to strictly adhere to permit regulations. A thorough investigation will be led by CapeNature to ascertain whether there was a breach in complying to the regulations which could have resulted in the escape of these young crocodiles.”
CapeNature, in partnership ,with SAPS, the facility owner and surrounding landowners will continue with the recapturing efforts through night patrols and the use of humane cages.
The area, about 5km upstream towards Robertson and 5km downstream towards Swellendam, remains the key area for surveillance and capture.
The public is urged to not attempt to approach any crocodiles, but to immediately report any sightings to the Bonnievale SAPS at 023 616 8060.