Crocodiles terrorise Kariba

via Crocodiles terrorise Kariba | The Zimbabwean 7 August 2014

Tourism and fishing activities on Lake Kariba and tributaries of the Zambezi River are under threat amid increasing concerns about the menacing rise in the crocodile population.

The number of crocodiles has been increasing for years, as have the numbers of people killed and maimed by the beasts. Tourists, resort operators and locals are urging the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management to cull the teeming reptiles, which they say have become larger and bolder. They are now tailing cruising vessels and seizing on every opportunity to kill fishermen and holiday makers alike.

There has been a number of incidents in recent weeks when crocodiles killed locals, fishermen and tourists. The Parks reaction teams in some cases have resorted to shooting the killer reptiles to retrieve the victims’ bodies.

Kariba is one of Zimbabwe’s main tourist destinations and attracts thousands of visitors every year. People come for annual fishing events such as the Kariba Half Marathon held in August, casual fishing, spear fishing, skiing, boat cruises and game viewing.

The crocodiles are reported to have invaded popular spots like harbours and favourite sites like Charara NAU and Lomagundi Lakeside where they are said to follow houseboats in search of food.

Cruise guides discourage holiday makers from throwing food into the water, saying that tends to encourage the crocodiles to get closer, thereby posing a danger to humans.

The increase in the numbers is blamed on National Parks, which forces crocodile farmers to release 10% of hatchlings into the wild. Others have blamed National Parks’ strict control of fishing activities in the Zambezi tributaries that has resulted in more fish in the waters, thereby providing a bigger source of food for the crocodiles.

The crocodiles have become more daring and can now be seen in places where they used to be rare, according to Kariba residents, who said they sometimes follow fishing boats and rip nets off.

“Crocs have lost their fear of man. Of this there is no doubt. Twenty years ago, the minute they saw you they disappeared, only to be seen again at night with a spot light. If you were lucky enough to see a croc swimming during daylight hours it quickly submerged and would not be seen again. Sadly that is not the case today,” said one resident who identified himself as Jase.

“I have had fish taken off my lines, keep nets removed and even the occasional “bump” underneath the boat. This is totally abnormal behaviour from these beasts. My solution to this ever increasing problem is that crocs should be sold on licence and shot,” he added.

Others suggested shooting the reptiles at all the popular places they now frequent because of a high human traffic volume, as a way of forcing them to retreat to less busy places, while hunting seasons should be launched to help reduce numbers.

One resident called on National Parks experts to carry out a formal survey to determine the population, while another said the department should investigate patterns of behaviour among the reptiles.

However, Parks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo, told The Zimbabwean that her department was in control of the situation. “It is wrong to conclude that there are too many crocodiles simply because of tragic incidents whereby people have been killed. We should consider if the people who visit the areas where crocodiles are found are exercising sufficient caution to avoid confrontation with the reptiles,” she said.

“We must also be careful of a few people who tend to push their own agendas whenever there is an isolated even though tragic incident when one of them is killed or mauled by a crocodile,” she said.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 10
  • comment-avatar

    I agree with Caroline ! As for the house boats of course they will be followed after dumping the remains of fish into the water. We all know crocs were around for many a year and they learn quick. But hey kill everything till there is nothing like the rhino, then we wait to hear how parks have not done their job.we are entering their domain if it came into your yard you will kill it,

  • comment-avatar
    revenger-avenger 7 years ago

    Send our pathetic MP’s there on holiday to fish

  • comment-avatar

    Good one revenger-avenger. I agree!

  • comment-avatar

    these crocks are acting like the zanu cio.

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    mike paterson 7 years ago

    I have witnessed the bad behavior of some of the visitors to Kariba who think that it is a place to drink oneself paralytic and take risks that are supposed to impress.
    If only these people respected the fact that like any other wild-life the natural waters of the lake are home to crocodiles and they deserve the same respect that an elephant, lion or rhino should receive on their home territory.
    There is plenty of fish for them to feed on and don’t need the trash from houseboats to survive.

    • comment-avatar
      John Steele 7 years ago

      Well said!!!

    • comment-avatar
      tfara 7 years ago

      What exactly are you saying Mike?
      One thing I can tell you that the vast majority of people who have been taken by crocks were sober and law abiding citizens. Ms Washaya -Moyo is to young to remember normal crocodile activities and what it is now.
      If my agenda is to be able to swim in Kariba or fish off the side as I used to for 2 decades as a young man, then indeed I am a person with an agenda. Is this terrible?

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    When animals change their behaviour it is usually brought about by circumstances created by human beings. For example street cats have always been around in the cities. So have rats. The cats help in a small way to control the rats. Exterminators do the rest and some sort of a balance is contained. Around about the year 2000 venders in the street of Bulawayo started selling a crystal like poison that killed rats so quick that you could actually see them starting to walk slowly soon after they ate the bait. As the Rats were a food source for the street cats very few people actually notice that street cats were starting to be rare to see. Logic would suggest that the cats were eating the poisoned rats and were being inflected too.When it comes to reproduction, cats are quite prolific breeders. One female kitty has the ability to produce an average of about 12 kittens each year if not spayed. The rat on the other hand is a great survivor and it’s survival depends on it’s ability to breed. A female rat can mate as many as 500 times with various males during a six-hour period of receptivity—a state she experiences about 15 times per year. Thus a pair of rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants in a year if left to breed unchecked. (A rat matures sexually at age three to four months.) An average rat’s life span is two to three years. It would stand to reason that the rats would survive the poisoning and the cats would suffer. Suddenly there was an outbreak of rats all over the show. The Cats ability to check them was reduced because of reduced cat numbers.My point here is that a crocodile lays between 25 and 80 eggs per year. Out of the hatchings maybe between 2 to 5% survive to adulthood. The rest are taken by predators in the form of fish, birds and other Animals. In the past we have seen the people tasked with the management of wildlife making sure that it is managed in the most natural way possible. Of late Humans have encroached and interfered with these areas like never before. Those that are supposed to run things are powerless to do any thing about it. I wont say I know what exactly is causing these animals to change their behaviour. I do suspect that the chaos in the tourism sector that has almost become a free for all has a lot of bearing to what is happening.

  • comment-avatar

    Doctor do little are you saying that the natural predators of the crocs are being affected by humans?

  • comment-avatar

    What I’m saying is that something has happened to change the animals behaviour. E.G. When there is a drought and a dam with Crocs drys up Crocs are known to have migrated over fifty miles so it would mean you might find a croc in the middle of nowhere lying in a bush waiting for the sun to go down to resume it’s search for water. Lake Kariba does not dry up. When you have an abundance rats in a house and you have a problematic snake it will not leave whilst the rats are there. Remove the food source chance are a snake will not stay long in the area.