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Following the escape of an unknown number of sub adult Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) from a facility outside of Bonnievale last week and Wednesday, CapeNature can report that to date a total of 50 can now be accounted for. The night patrols on the Breede River are ongoing with CapeNature partnering with a SAPS diving team, the facility owner and neighbouring land owners in recapturing the escaped reptiles.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) has availed four boats and eight police divers to assist in the nocturnal patrols searching for the escaped animals. Although a number of trap cages with bait were put out in a first attempt to recapture the animals, this method proved to be less effective since the escaped animals have access to an abundance of food in the river.

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 euthanize twenty of the crocodiles spotted. Although crocodiles are indigenous to South Africa, they are not part of the natural fauna of the Western Cape.

CapeNature is saddened by the extreme measure this operation is now requiring, but we regard 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.”

We need to emphasize that the onus remains on wildlife owners to strictly adhere to permit regulations. A thorough investigation will be led by CapeNature to ascertain whether there was a breach in complying to the regulations which could have resulted in the escape of these young crocodiles.”

CapeNature in partnership with SAPS, the facility owner and surrounding landowners will continue with the recapturing efforts through night patrols.

The area approximately 5km upstream towards Robertson, and 5km downstream towards Swellendam, remains the key area for surveillance and capture.

The public is urged to not attempt to approach any crocodiles, but to immediately report any sightings to the Bonnievale SAPS on 023-616 8060.

ENDS

Press statement released by CapeNature 8 March 2021