Giant crocodiles don’t worry Dusi canoeists
THE INFAMOUS Umgeni crocodile seems to have been joined by an even bigger friend, according to reports from observers in the area.
In spite of this the Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban will begin as planned on Thursday.
Ezemvelo Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife spokesperson Jeff Gaisford has confirmed receiving reports about a “much larger crocodile which is estimated to be about three metres long”.
Paddler Angelique Mulder said she was not too concerned. “I think people are exaggerating about this whole thing. It’s really not that big. I paddle often near Albert Falls where there are many crocodiles so this is really not that big a deal.” Mulder will take part in next week’s marathon.
Karel Cilliers of Durban North, a member of Kingfisher Canoe Club, said, “I think the croc is more scared of humans than we are scared of it”.
An additional three traps have now been set along the Umgeni River to catch the elusive crocodiles.
Wildlife officials hope to remove the crocodiles before the three-day marathon.
Gaisford said the reptiles were a potential threat to humans but they had been “very well behaved so far. They eat very little as it is. One meal a week, the size of a goose, is enough for them”.
Margaret Burger, of the Umgeni Estuary Conservancy, spoke of her concern for the crocodiles not having a “voice” and how they were pleased to see nature in the form of a crocodile returning to where it originally belongs.
Gaisford said shooting the crocodiles would be a last resort. “We would only shoot them if they were deemed to be a threat. There are three or four approaches we could take to catch the crocodile before shooting it. One is going on a boat at night to catch it with a pole and noose. It is very difficult with a three-metre crocodile but it has been done before.
“We would like to assure the public that everything will be done to catch the crocodiles uninjured”.
The traps are made of wire mesh and have a hinged door at one end, with a wire catch and a line connected to the bait.
“If anything attacks the bait, the door will snap closed, trapping it inside,” Gaisford said.
Wildlife officials hope to remove the crocodile before the start of the Dusi.
The first trap set contained a dead dog as bait as it was “an old piece of knowledge” that dog meat was the best croc bait, according to Gaisford and crocodile expert Mark Robertson.
Authorities came under fire from animal rights authorities who said the dog could have been someone’s pet and that it should not be assumed it was a stray.
But Ezemvelo defended the decision, saying the animal’s body was found after it had been struck by a car. “We would never use a live dog or kill a dog for bait,” said Gaisford.