Police and conservation officers were continuing their search on Friday for an unknown number of crocodiles that escaped from a breeding farm in South Africa.
The reptiles are suspected to have entered the Breede River after escaping on Wednesday from a farm near the town of Bonnievale in Western Cape province, some 180 kilometers (111 miles) east of Cape Town.
27 snapped up, 6 evade capture
So far, 27 of the crocodiles have been seized, while another seven had to be put down, Cape Nature conservation spokeswoman Petro van Rhyn said. Another six crocodiles were seen but managed to evade capture.
The commercial breeding farm contains roughly 5,000 crocodiles, but the recovery teams are still trying to find out from the property’s owner how many of the reptiles may still be missing.
“Is it 100, or is it 1,000?” van Rhyn asked. “We don’t know.”
The missing crocodiles are around 1.2 to 1.5 meters long, according to Cape Nature.
Not taking the bait
Conservation officers have been using cages with food inside as a way of luring the crocodiles. However, the semiaquatic reptiles are not taking the bait as the river is full of fish, van Rhyn said.
Police and Cape Nature officers are focusing on an area up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) upstream and 5 kilometers downstream of the point of escape but don’t believe the crocodiles will have moved very far.
No need for crocodile fears
Van Rhyn said locals should keep an eye out but stressed there was no cause for panic. Crocodiles are nocturnal animals and are generally shy, she said, so it would be highly unlikely to see one on the streets of Bonnievale.
Nevertheless, she said it was not a good idea to go swimming in the river where the crocodiles are believed to be lurking.
jsi/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters)