News Section
Stories from Climate Central's Science Journalists and Content Partners

Thousands of Crocodiles on the Loose After Floods

By David Smith, The Guardian

Thousands of crocodiles are on the loose in South Africa after heavy rains and flooding forced a tourist attraction to open its gates, according to a newspaper report.

Around 15,000 crocodiles made the great escape from the Rakwena crocodile farm near the border with Botswana on Sunday, according to the newspaper Beeld. Although "a few thousand" have since been recaptured, including one at a school rugby ground 75 miles away, more than half of the reptiles are still at large.

The crocodile farm's owner was forced to open its gates to prevent a storm surge that could have threatened the walls of his house after the nearby Limpopo river rose to a dangerous level.
Credit: flickr/ Ramy Alaa

The farm's owner, Johan Boshoff, was forced to open its gates to prevent a storm surge that could have threatened the walls of his house after the nearby Limpopo river rose to a dangerous level.

Zane Langman, Boshoff's son-in-law, said most of the animals had escaped into dense bush and the Limpopo River. "There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River," he told Beeld. "Now there are a lot. We go to catch them as soon as farmers call us to inform us about crocodiles." Most of the recapturing takes place at night, when the crocodiles' eyes glow red when reflecting light.

Langman said he went to rescue friends in a flooded house in the area by boat on Sunday. "You want to get them but you wonder the whole time if you'll make it there," he was quoted as saying. "When we reached them, the crocodiles were swimming around them. Praise the Lord, they were all alive."

Animal safety experts warned the public to stay indoors and away from the crocodiles. Homes on the crocodile farm and surrounding area have been evacuated and possessions removed as water consumes the region.

'A few thousand' of the escaped crocodiles have been recaptured, including one at a school rugby ground 75 miles from the farm.
Credit: flickr/Jeheme

The floods have killed at least 10 people in Limpopo province, including three children who died when their homes collapsed during heavy rain. Three more people are missing and hundreds have been left homeless, while several wildlife resorts have been devastated.

The South African air force is being used to rescue people affected by the flooding in remote settlements, some of which are cut off.

Flooding has also affected Kruger national park and neighboring Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

Reprinted with permission from The Guardian