CapeNature staff set cage traps with a dead chicken to lure crocodiles that escaped on 5 March.


CapeNature staff set cage traps with a dead chicken to lure crocodiles that escaped on 5 March.

Jaco Marais, Gallo Images

  • Scores of crocodiles escaped from a farm in Bonnievale in March.
  • At least two crocodiles are still at large in the Breede River.
  • So far, 83 crocodiles have been captured.

The authorities are still searching for at least two crocodiles in the Breede River following their escape from a crocodile farm in Bonnievale in the Western Cape.

The sub-adult Nile crocodiles escaped from a facility outside Bonnievale in the Western Cape on 3 MarchIOL identified the farm as the Jan Hoppie Crocodile Farm.

So far, 83 crocodiles have been captured or euthanised in an operation spanning three months.

READ | Warning! Avoid the Breede River as Bonnievale crocs still on the loose, says CapeNature

The crocodiles, ranging in size from 1.2m to 1.5m, escaped and made their way to the Breede River.

“The escape was caused by crocodiles finding a weak spot in the perimeter fencing of one of the enclosures; crocodiles are well-known for escaping,” said Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Of the crocodiles captured, 51 were euthanised and 32 captured alive. Two more crocodiles remain at large.

“According to CapeNature, these two crocodiles have been spotted, but not yet been retrieved. No other sightings have been reported recently, and the recent rains and flooding of the Breede River appear not to have had any impact on their movements,” Bredell said.

The search operation was scaled down in May because there were no new sightings of the reptiles for two weeks.

CapeNature will continue with at least one nightly river patrol per week with the aid of landowners, Bredell said.

An investigation into the crocodiles’ escape was launched at the end of March, and an enforcement notice under the nature conservation ordinance was issued to the crocodile farm, CapeNature spokesperson Petro van Rhyn previously told News24.

“The investigation into the alleged transgressions of the facility owner is currently being concluded and a decision will be taken soon toward any further action against the owner,” Bredell added.

CapeNature comprehensively inspected the crocodile facility following the escape, and repair work to the enclosure where the escape took place was completed to the standard dictated by the CapeNature fencing policy for crocodile facilities, he added.

“I want to thank the teams on the ground who have worked hard over the past three months to recapture the animals. This includes teams from CapeNature and the police diving unit, as well as various landowners in the area.”

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