South African authorities have called on police to help round up as many as 15,000 crocodiles that escaped from a farm during recent floods and ended up in a river.
On Thursday, it was reported that the crocodiles had escaped in Limpopo, near the border with Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Crocodile farmers, police, and locals have already trapped thousands of the reptiles and used plastic bands to tie their legs before putting them in pick-up trucks, reported Reuters. Most of the crocodiles are less than two meters (6.5 feet) in length.
“We’ve been recapturing them as and when the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property. In Weipe there were a lot, and I also heard there was a crocodile on school’s rugby field in Musina,” Zane Langman, who is a relative of one of the owners of the crocodile farm, told the Beeld publication.
He said they were captured in the dense bush and nearby orange groves.
The farm owners were forced to open the farm’s gates because the force of the flood waters might have crushed the reptiles, according to Reuters.
A crocodile expert with the Reptile House at London Zoo said that it is not an easy task to capture even one of the reptiles.
“I’d be very surprised if they caught them all,” crocodile expert Iri Gill told The Guarian. “It is very, very difficult. Basically if the animal is of a manageable size you would just try and sneak up and grab it. Or you try and improvise some kind of blindfold and then try and jump on the crocodile.”
“Their best bet is probably to go out at night time and shine some torches to locate the animals first,” he added. “Good luck to the guy who’s trying to catch them all.”
Langman said that most of the capturing efforts are taking place during the nighttime.
There have been no reports of injuries associated with the escaped crocodiles.
But heavy rains and flooding in the region have killed at least 20 people in nearby Mozambique and South Africa, while forcing thousands of people to evacuate.
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