Some forty Experts from four countries have been holding an international workshop on crocodiles at Victoria Falls in Rhodesia.
Some forty Experts from four countries have been holding an international workshop on crocodiles at Victoria Falls in Rhodesia. Its two major themes were -- conservation of crocodiles and using commercial methods prudently to help in this conservation. Delegates came from Rhodesia, South Africa, Botswana and the United States.
SYNOPSIS: The workshop was held at the Spencer Creek Crocodile ranch. Here the delegates could see how crocodiles are commercially reared. This domestic breeding is aimed, in part, at taking the crocodile off the lit of endangered species. True crocodiles, as opposed to the North American and Chinese alligators, were originally found mostly in the tropics and subtropics of Africa--south of the Sahara--Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Southeast Asia, the East Indies and northern Australia. They were also in Mexico and Central America, the West Indies, and most of South America, but are almost extinct in many areas.
Rhodesia is the only country with a thriving crocodile population. A star attraction for the one hundred and twenty thousand tourists here each year is Big Daddy, a seventy-year-old who has eaten three Africans in his time. He is an awesome reminder that some fifty people -- mostly Africans -- are taken annually by crocodiles in Rhodesia...and an average of six hundred killed around the world.
Ranch-hands here are trying to haul a drugged crocodile from a pen of fifteen-year-old, but his livelier comrades make this a dangerous procedure. The ranch has about three thousand crocodiles, all of the Nile species, ranging from new-born babies to fifteen-footers; they can live to be up to a hundred years old. They begin breeding when they are, like this one, about six feet long, and fifteen-years-old.
These bigger fellows have escaped the commercial slaughter that carried off their brothers and cousins when they were three-year-old. The ranch owner, Robert Gee, a former National Parks ranger, and his workers, kill the youngsters for their skins. These are made into the usual articles: handbags, shoes, briefcases, wallets, belts and watch straps.
Rangers are allowed by law to collect two thousand five hundred crocodile eggs in the wild each year, but must return at least five percent of hatched baby crocodiles to the wild. This scheme helps to compensate for the large numbers of babies who die from predatory birds eating at least half of the number of crocodile eggs in the bush.