Villagers Warned After 15,000 Crocodiles Escaped From Farm

Villagers Warned After 15,000 Crocodiles Escaped From Farm

Villagers were urged to stay indoors after 15,000 deadly Nile crocodiles escaped from a farm in South Africa.

The reptiles, which can grow to 16ft long, were accidentally freed after heavy rain made the nearby Limpopo river flood.

Bosses at the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in the north-east of  the country opened the gates to the animals’ pens to release the rising waters – inadvertently letting their entire stock out.

The reptiles have since been spotted all over the local area – including on a school sports field – and wildlife experts have urged local people to avoid the animals and stay indoors.

As the flood waters fell, many have been found trapped in the branches of trees. But at least one has been spotted on a nearby school's waterlogged rugby field.

He said he had already caught 'a few thousand' in the dense bush and orange groves next to his farm, but he told the newspaper that 'more than half' of his reptiles are still missing.

Mr Langman said he prefers to catch the reptiles at night, as their eyes reflect red in torchlight and they are therefore easier to find.

Nile Crocodiles are meat eating and can grow to up to five metres long. They can run at up to eight miles an hour and swim at up to 22 mph.

They are extremely dangerous to humans. Their preferred method of killing is to grab an animal in their enormous jaws then drag it, alive, underwater to drown it.

Commercial crocodile farms breed the animals for their skin, which is used to make crocodile leather for items such as belts, shoes and handbags.

There is also a small market for crocodile meat, but most often the dead reptile's is fed to other crocs as the species is cannibalistic.

The commercial crocodile farming industry is small, but growing, in South Africa, where there are around 60 farms containing a total of around 500,000 animals.

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