File picture: AP Photo/Aaron Favila.

Durban - A juvenile crocodile spotted on bank of Tongaat River mouth on Monday is believed to be among hundreds thriving in reedbeds in rivers on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast.

"It's a juvenile croc, about 1,2 metres long," said Umhlali K9 SAPS search and rescue officer, Sergeant Clinton Odayar, who got a snapshot of the reptile before it slipped back into the water early Monday evening.

The sighting of the crocodile was first reported by a motorist, Nadine Flaum.

“There’s an alligator - I mean crocodile - catching a suntan on beach,” said Flaum on a voice note posted on an emergency services WhatsApp group.

Flaum was driving over Tongaat River bridge when her 18-year-old daughter, Kiara-Lee, glimpsed the crocodile from the passenger side window.

This young crocodile was spotted “catching a tan” at Tongaat River mouth yesterday. Photo: Clinton Odayar.

Soon afterwards, Odayar arrived at the scene and reported the sighting to Crocodile Creek – an educational and tourism centre situated between Tongaat and Ballito, about 2 kilometres upstream of the Tongaat River mouth.

“We presume this croc escaped from the Crocodile Creek while it was still a baby. They are now trying to set up a trap to capture it and take it back to the facility. This is already in process,” said Odayar.

Catering to families, school parties, groups or individuals, Crocodile Creek keeps as many as 9,000 Nile Crocodiles, West African Dwarf Crocs, Slender-Snouted Crocs, American Alligators, as well as a wide array of snakes, tortoises, rabbits, wild monkeys and Banded Mongeese.

Crocodile Creek owner, Craig Watson, said many crocodile traps were already in place in rivers on the North Coast following the escape of several hundred crocodiles from another farm, now closed, several years ago.

Attempts to recapture them happen on an ongoing basis, said Watson. “But the crocs are happy out there, surviving in the reed beds. And they are not easy to catch. They can submerge themselves for up to 10 hours,” said Watson.

Daily News