Communities in Hazyview and surrounding areas in Mpumalanga are living in fear after more than 100 crocodiles that escaped from an enclosure, are still at large. It is reported that the crocodile enclosure on one of the farms in the area collapsed during the recent persistent rains. Over 160 of the reptiles escaped.
The crocodiles are now believed to be in the rivers and dams around White River, Hazyview and the surrounding areas. More than 50 have been recaptured while over 100 are still nowhere to be found. It is believed that some may have made their way to the Sand River, a tributary of the Sabie River.
Concerned residents have pleaded with the authorities to recapture the crocodiles before they attack people. They say most children swim in the rivers to cool off from the heat. Some residents also perform rituals in the river.
“The children like this place. Even the elders come to swim here. We would like authorities to assist us and remove the crocodiles. It is not safe because the river is overflowing. We can’t see whether the crocodiles are here. It is not safe at all,” says a resident.
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has warned residents not to go near dams and rivers or swim in the water.
“The owner of the breeding project caught 40 and the MTPA caught 12 crocodiles, which means more than 100 crocodiles are still on the loose. We warn the people not to come closer to the rivers the sand river here because it’s the only river nearest to the project where the crocodiles escaped, even the dams around villages, Hazyview, Kiepersol and around Majika and surrounding areas,” says MTPA’s April Lukhele.
Lukhele also added that the permit for the breeding programme will be revoked so that the owner will be given a chance again to rebuild the facility, adding that if the quality is good, the permit will be issued again.”
Forty crocodiles captured by the breeder have been taken to another facility in Middelburg, while the other 12 have been kept at the MTPA’s facility. The search for the remaining crocodiles continues.