Seven crocodiles euthanised after mass escape from breeding farm

05 March 2021 - 16:00 By TimesLIVE
An unknown number of Nile crocodiles escaped from a breeding farm on the Breede River in the Cape winelands. Stock photo.
An unknown number of Nile crocodiles escaped from a breeding farm on the Breede River in the Cape winelands. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Konstantin Kopachinsky

Seven of the young crocodiles that escaped from a breeding farm into the Breede River in the Western Cape have been euthanised, CapeNature said on Friday.

After 27 sub-adult Nile crocodiles were recaptured within a day of Wednesday's mass escape in Bonnievale, six more crocodiles have been located but none recaptured.

CapeNature, which is co-ordinating the operation to retrieve the crocodiles — each between 1.2m and 1.5m long — said baited trap cages were no longer working because the reptiles were feasting on “an abundance of food in the river”.

A statement added: “The overgrown river and dense vegetation on the riverbanks also make it very difficult to recapture these crocodiles.

“Being nocturnal animals, the best time to search for them is at night, which brings its own challenges in terms of visibility.

“As time is of the essence, CapeNature and the search party partners were left with no choice but to euthanise seven of the crocodiles spotted. Though crocodiles are indigenous to SA, they are not part of the natural fauna of the Western Cape.”

CapeNature CEO Razeena Omar said she was “saddened by the extreme measure this operation is now requiring”, adding: “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.”

Four police boats with two divers each are patrolling the Breede River for 5km either side of Bonnievale, in the directions of Robertson upstream and Swellendam downstream.

Omar said CapeNature would lead an investigation into the crocodile escape through a hole in the breeding farm's fence “to ascertain whether there was a breach in complying to the permit regulations”.

Anyone who sees a crocodile is asked to call Bonnievale police on 023-616-8060.

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