BEN TROVATO

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page -

DDear CapeNa­ture, ur­ing the De­cem­ber hol­i­days you gave per­mis­sion to a farmer to shoot a croc­o­dile. Well done. If there is any­thing this coun­try needs, it’s fewer crocodiles. Any an­i­mal with that many teeth is an abom­i­na­tion and de­serves to die.

It’s pos­si­ble that you have is­sued sev­eral shoot-on-sight or­ders for a range of species since then, so you might need re­mind­ing of the back­ground to this par­tic­u­lar case.

It all started when the Mos­sel Bay Ad­ver­tiser re­ceived a photo of a farmer in the Al­ber­tinia district hold­ing up a dead croc­o­dile. I have never been there. For all I know, croc­o­dile-killing is a Christ­mas tra­di­tion in those parts. Once the lambs have been slaugh­tered, I imag­ine that’s pretty much it as far as fes­tiv­i­ties go.

The me­dia made its usual pes­tif­er­ous en­quiries and dis­cov­ered that a farmer with a prop­erty bor­der­ing the Gouritz River had in­deed ex­e­cuted the beast. The farmer de­clined to com­ment, which is un­usual. If it had been me, I’d have made damn sure that news of my hero­ism spread through­out the world. Or at least as far as Slan­griv­ier. I would ex­pect to be made an hon­orary mem­ber of the Anti-Croc­o­dile League, with full ben­e­fits in­clud­ing free cap and beer mug.

You must have been hop­ing to let dead crocs sleep, but the trou­ble­some re­porter de­manded to know what the hell was go­ing on. I sup­pose you had to re­lease a state­ment, if only to pre­empt an out­cry from the planet-lov­ing croc­o­dile-hug­gers out there.

A cou­ple of weeks be­fore Christ­mas, you got an ur­gent call from a farmer. He wasn’t happy. He said chil­dren swim­ming in the river had seen a croc­o­dile. I have heard tell that chil­dren are the next gen­er­a­tion, so it’s best we don’t have them eaten by crocodiles. And es­pe­cially not if they be­long to the staff. Cer­tainly can’t have the wildlife mur­der­ing our fu­ture work­force.

The farmer said the chil­dren were trau­ma­tised. Were they from Eng­land? It seems un­likely that lo­cal kids would be overly con­cerned about see­ing a croc­o­dile. I’m sure they’ve seen far worse. Es­pe­cially in that district. On, like, ev­ery Fri­day night.

Sure, they might have been trau­ma­tised if they’d seen the croc in, say, the Spar. But if you were ex­pect­ing to see a croc­o­dile in this coun­try, you would want to start with the rivers.

As you pointed out in your state­ment, the fa­mous bungy jump­ing bridge is only a short dis­tance away from where the croc was sighted. I’ve al­ways thought that peo­ple who bungy jump have a healthy death wish re­gard­less. Some of us would pay good money to see a croc lunge at a bungy jumper as he reached the bot­tom of his plum­met. That’s a proper tourist at­trac­tion in my book.

You also said the brute could have en­dan­gered lives by go­ing as far as the Gouritz River mouth. Very few peo­ple ac­tu­ally live there and I imag­ine you’d only set up home at the mouth in the hope of a swift and pain­less death.

From what I’ve heard, fam­i­lies go to the Gouritz River mouth to get high while dad kills as many fish as he can be­fore the brandy ren­ders him in­sen­si­ble. The pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing sav­aged by a rogue croc­o­dile would be a bonus.

Oh, wait. He’s not rogue at all. One of your peo­ple was quoted as say­ing “there is no way this an­i­mal could come from a nat­u­ral pop­u­la­tion”. At first I thought he meant the rep­tile had come from another planet in­hab­ited en­tirely by mem­bers of the Crocodyl­i­dae fam­ily. Was he left be­hind when the moth­er­ship de­parted? Or was he be­ing picked up when the ship aban­doned the mis­sion af­ter see­ing what kind of peo­ple live in Al­ber­tinia?

Then I re­alised that he meant the croc wasn’t a wild nat­u­ral-born killer like those mur­der­ous hooli­gans in St Lu­cia. He had been raised as some­one’s pet. It’s quite likely he had a name. Some­thing like Jakobus van der Spuy, prob­a­bly. No won­der he es­caped.

Then came the Soleimani mo­ment. And here, to avoid er­rors that might creep into the edit­ing process, I quote your state­ment in full. “Af­ter care­ful re­view of the cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing the ob­vi­ous threat to life and limb to hu­mans that the an­i­mal posed, as well as the fact that the [cur­rent] nat­u­ral dis­tri­bu­tion of this species ex­cludes the Western Cape Prov­ince, CapeNa­ture granted per­mis­sion for the landowner to shoot the croc­o­dile.” Com­pletely un­der­stand­able. The rugby was on and you couldn’t find any­one pre­pared to drive out there, dart him and have him trans­ferred to wher­ever crocodiles would rather be than shot.

Be­sides, the Western Cape is well-known for op­pos­ing the in­flux of any­thing that is out­side its nat­u­ral dis­tri­bu­tion. Yes, Xhosas. I’m look­ing at you. Not to men­tion the fact that crocodiles have been around for 80 mil­lion years. Talk about over­stay­ing your wel­come. White peo­ple pale in com­par­i­son.

So that was that. The hitman was given the nod and a few hours later, the croc, think­ing he heard some­one shout­ing his name, bel­lied up to a sand­bank and lay there with his mouth open, hop­ing some­one would come along and throw a chop into it.

Hang on. It wasn’t a he at all. Well, I’m not go­ing back and chang­ing the gen­der. There’s enough of that go­ing on in the world as it is. She was 2.5m long. Or, in terms ev­ery­one can un­der­stand, 10 belts, six hand­bags, four pairs of shoes and two wal­lets.

You also gave the farmer per­mis­sion to keep the car­cass. He must have been thrilled. Not ev­ery­one has a bar with a rum dis­penser in a croc­o­dile’s mouth. The tro­phy will also help keep the trauma fresh in the minds of those id­iot chil­dren. I just hope they don’t spot some­thing else that scares them. Me, for in­stance.

Love the last line of your state­ment. “Mem­bers of the public are to con­tact their lo­cal au­thor­i­ties im­me­di­ately should they find them­selves in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.” Have you tried con­tact­ing the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties any­where out­side the Western Cape? Good luck with that.

Any­way, it’s great to see CapeNa­ture di­ver­si­fy­ing. I imag­ine shoot­ing ba­boons on the penin­sula gets a bit te­dious af­ter a while. Noth­ing like nail­ing a gi­ant lizard to liven thing up. Have you thought of team­ing up with SANParks? I hear it’s open sea­son on cy­clists at the mo­ment.

Could be fun.

We can’t have wildlife mur­der­ing our fu­ture work­force

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