Cape Town – Twenty Nile crocodiles that escaped from the Jan Hoppie Crocodile Farm in Angora, Bonnievale, last week have been euthanised as CapeNature says “time is of the essence” in putting the safety of the surrounding community first.
An unknown number of crocodiles escaped from the breeding facility on Wednesday, and 50 were by yesterday accounted for.
CapeNature said that of the 50, 30 have been recaptured alive while twenty had to be euthanised.
Spokesperson Petro Van Rhyn said that a number of cages with bait that were put out in a first attempt to recapture the crocodiles proved to be less effective as the semiaquatic reptiles have access to an abundance of food in the Breede River.
“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.”
Van Rhyn said that tranquilisers have never been an accepted method for capturing crocodiles as their skins are thick and it is difficult for any dart to penetrate.
She said all the crocodiles that have been found on dry land have been captured alive.
CapeNature chief executive officer Razeena Omar said that she is saddened by the extreme measure of the operation, but the conservation organisation regards the safety of the surrounding community first and foremost.
“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 with the regulations which could have resulted in the escape of these young crocodiles,” said Omar.
The Nation Council of SPCA’s said they are concerned over the farmer’s uncertainty as to exactly how many crocodiles escaped.
Spokesperson Keshvi Nair said: “Our biggest concern currently is that if all the crocodiles are not captured, the public may resort to destroying them in a manner which is inhumane and cruel. The Nile crocodile is an endangered species listed as cities Appendix 2.”
Van Rhyn said that CapeNature, SAPS, the facility owner, and surrounding landowners will continue with the recapturing efforts through night patrols and the use of humane cages.
The public is urged to not attempt to approach any crocodiles, but to immediately report any sightings to the Bonnievale SAPS on 023-616 8060 which set up a dedicated task team to deal with this incident.