Crocodiles devour 16 people

HARARE - Crocodiles are proving to be a huge menace in Zimbabwe with 16 people succumbing to horrific attacks by the reptiles in seven months, the Daily News can report.

A study by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) revealed that 16 people died from croc attacks between January and July, while five people were left badly injured over the same period.

It is the highest number of fatalities arising from crocodile attacks in as many years, symptomatic of the escalation in human and wildlife conflict.

Most of these deaths were due to negligence in crocodile-infested waters. It is also possible that people are becoming complacent in spite of the dangers posed by the crocodiles, with some getting more adventurous on waterways.

Yet another school of thought says crocodile could be breeding in huge numbers.

ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said at least 14 animals were killed by crocodiles during the same period.

“As ZimParks, we continue educating our communities and ensure that they inform the authorities if there are such cases within their environs,” he said.

“One of the main challenges we are facing is funding to ensure that we deal effectively with human wildlife conflicts and also how to deal with nocturnal species that are active during the night.”

Crocodiles are among the most vicious predators of rivers and lakes. They lurk almost totally submerged in the water as they lie in wait for passing prey, which is then dragged into the water and drowned.

Renowned for their long powerful jaws, few creatures escape from their clutches — not even large buffalo and wildebeest.

A recent fatal croc attack of South African hunter on the banks of the Limpopo River attracted international headlines.

Scott Van Zyl, disappeared during a hunting trip on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border with a local tracker and a pack of dogs.

A search and rescue operation was launched after Van Zyl’s dogs returned to their camp without him. The hunter’s footprints were traced to river bank alongside his discarded rucksack.

Staff from the Heritage Protection Group — an organisation which he headed and helps police fight crime in South Africa — informally helped the Zimbabwean authorities conduct the search.

Permission was given for three Nile crocodiles in the area to be shot, and one of them contained Zyl’s remains. Subsequent DNA tests proved the remains to be those of Zyl.

Several other people have been killed after wading into croc-infested river crossings.

ZimParks said the period under review saw 37 threats from crocodiles to human life and livestock, with 33 cases attended to by the national parks authority.

The wildlife agency also reported that one man was gored to death by a buffalo, while five people were killed by elephants since January.

A man was left with permanent injuries after being mauled by a lion in June.

“It doesn’t happen often. This year there was only one case of a man who was attacked by a lion in the bush in June,” Farawo said.

“The man, however, survived. In 2016, one person was killed by lions and four others were attacked and injured but survived.”

He said lions killed 91 cattle, six donkeys and 46 goats, while hyenas devoured 28 goats and 11 cattle.

The ZimParks spokesperson said the animals that came into conflict with humans were both in open and fenced areas.

“Zimbabwe has wildlife in both open and fenced areas. Over 26 percent of the country’s land surface is under wildlife in gazetted wildlife areas, gazetted indigenous forests, some communal areas and private farms and conservancies. There is also wildlife in large tracks of unfenced areas under extensive management,” he said.

ZimParks is working around the clock to deal with conflicts between people and animals, although it faced varying challenges.

“We normally capture and relocate them to conservancies or in rare cases, we eliminate the problem lions but this is the last resort,” he said.

Communities were urged to immediately report the presence of wildlife in their area to the nearest ZimParks offices or to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Comments (1)

When crossing infested rivers carry ice cream you will see them running away...

Galore - 23 August 2017

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