Western Cape government on escaped crocodiles - 66 recaptured but the search continues

19 March 2021 - 10:03 By cebelihle bhengu
Nile crocodiles escaped from a breeding farm on the Breede River in the Cape winelands. File photo.
Nile crocodiles escaped from a breeding farm on the Breede River in the Cape winelands. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Konstantin Kopachinsky

The Western Cape government has recaptured and in some cases, euthanised, 66 Nile crocodiles since an unknown number of them escaped into the Breede River from a commercial breeding farm in Bonnievale two weeks ago.

Environmental affairs and developmental planning MEC Anton Bredel said in a statement on Thursday that 34 of the crocodiles have been euthanised and 32 recaptured. Their size ranges between 1.2 to 1.5m. 

The crocodiles escaped through a hole in a fence of the farm they were enclosed in.

SAPS and CapeNature officials are continuing their search for more crocodiles, a task made difficult by the overgrown river and dense vegetation.

The MEC said there is also an ongoing investigation by CapeNature into the escape of the animals. It will include establishing whether the farm owner was in breach of any of the permit regulations.

“The traps remain in place and the patrols will continue until further notice. I want to thank the various role players who mobilised immediately to assist the operation to recapture the crocodiles,” said Bredel.

How others were recaptured

CapeNature and the search team managed to capture 27 crocodiles within a day of their escape. CapeNature CEO Razeena Omar said the team had set up “humane trap cages with bait on the riverside of the Breede to attempt to recapture” the animals. 

She said patrols on the river would continue every night to ensure more crocodiles were captured. 

Euthanising the animals 'an extreme measure'

A day after the 27 were captured, six more were retrieved and seven crocodiles were euthanised because they were proving harder to catch, threatening the lives of surrounding communities. 

“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,” said Omar.