Until recently, crocodiles in Rhodesia were regarded as vermin... something to be killed on sight.?
Until recently, crocodiles in Rhodesia were regarded as vermin... something to be killed on sight. The steady destruction of this last existing member of the dinosaur family has upset the ecology of the Zambesi river and the government is now taking steps to restore its natural balance.
SYNOPSIS: A massive breeding programme is underway at a government farm near Victoria Falls, its main aim being to put enough crocodiles back into the Zambesi to double their natural growth rate. When the Ministry of Agriculture feels the balance of the river is restored, it will introduce a culling plan that will control the crocodile population in the river, at the same time protecting the reptile from extinction.
While a great deal of indignation is roused at the threatened extermination of cuddly koalas, handsome leopards, beautiful birds of paradise and other impressive animals, crocodiles have few champions. Most people have the notion that crocodiles are ugly, voracious, man-eating brutes with no good in them. Consequently, they are hunted and killed unchecked in many places. But they do, in fact, have a romantic aspect - their history. Crocodiles provide a direct link with the days when reptiles were the dominant animals o earth and dinosaurs were stomping around at the peak of their development.
When other reptiles disappeared, crocodiles survived, adapting themselves to the changing conditions. Although the cooling of the climate restricted their range considerably and led to the extermination of many species, some went from strength to strength. For about 140 million years, crocodiles have been the dominant reptiles of tropical lakes and rivers such as the Zambesi.
Just over three years ago, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Africa adopted a resolution that crocodiles should be a national asset. The union drafted a plan designed to control the slaughter of crocodiles and to replenish their supplies wherever their stocks were depleted. The plan called for greater research into their habits and ecology and the establishment of sanctuaries for them. The Rhodesian Ministry of Agriculture has left no doubt that if fully intends to follow the plan, so that the continued propagation of this scientifically valuable species in the Zambesi river can be assured.