27 crocodiles caught after farm escape, but some still not found
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Cape Town - At least crocodiles have been recaptured after they escaped from the Jan Hoppie crocodile farm in Bonnievale.
Authorities were not able to confirm how many were still on the loose on Thursday, but cautioned the public to be alert in the surrounding areas.
The subadult Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus), which range in sizes from 1.2m to 1.5m, escaped from the commercial crocodile breeding farm through a hole in a wired fence on Wednesday.
CapeNature spokesperson Petro van Rhyn said 27 crocodiles were captured since their escape and it was not known how many were still at large.
“The recapturing efforts will continue with CapeNature, the farm owner, surrounding landowners, and the SAPS.
“An area about 5km upstream towards Robertson and 5km downstream towards Swellendam is the key area.
“Landowners and community members on the riverbed have been alarmed through various means of communication.”
CapeNature chief executive Razeena Omar said efforts include the setting up of humane trap cages with bait on the riverside of the Breede River to attempt to recapture the remaining animals.
“Patrols on the river will be undertaken every night to catch these animals,” Omar said.
Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said two crocodiles were yesterday still in a nearby dam being closely monitored and hopefully removed by late yesterday.
“Schools in the Bonnievale area were contacted and the school principals were informed to sensitise the learners regarding safety measures and the danger of the current situation.
“Additional members were deployed on foot patrols and monitoring of the riverbanks and the SAPS Diving Unit was also deployed to the area to do patrols with their boat.”
A former employee on the farm Petros Pretorius said the cages and the fence holding the animals were not regularly checked for safety.
“If the (crocodiles) see there's an opening they will push through until they get to the other side,” said Pretorius.
James Styan, spokesperson to the MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning Anton Bredell, on Wednesday said the crocodiles presented a “medium” danger to people as they were farmed animals used to regular feeding and therefore do not hunt for their food, but they remain wild and instinctive animals and do pose a danger to the public.
The public is urged not to approach any animals but to immediately report any sightings to the Bonnievale SAPS on 023-616 8060 which set up a dedicated task team to deal with the incident.