GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - During the December holidays, a photograph of a farmer in the Herbertsdale/Albertinia district was circulated, showing the farmer holding up a sizeable crocodile.
The photograph and several voice notes on WhatsApp caused quite a stir and were presented to the Mossel Bay Advertiser to investigate claims that a crocodile seen in the catchment area of the Gouritz River, had been shot.
Farmers in the Herbertsdale area, with farms bordering the Gouritz River, said they had previously heard rumours of a crocodile roaming about, but laughed it off as a hoax. Upon further enquiry, a source confirmed the incident and identified the farmer. The Advertiser tried to contact the farmer, but at the time of going to press, has not succeeded in obtaining his comment.
A CapeNature spokesperson, upon enquiry, said that it suggested "there is no way this animal could come from a natural population".
Its official response regarding the incident was that on 12 December, it received an urgent call from a owner of a property near Albertinia, bordering on the Gouritz River, regarding a potentially life-threatening encounter on his property which borders the river.
According to CapeNature's statement, a few children were swimming in the river when they suddenly came across a crocodile in the water. The incident caused panic and trauma to the children and they immediately left the water.
"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.
"The popular bridge for bungee jumping is only a short distance away and the animal could also have moved to the Gouritz River Mouth, which is a favourite tourist holiday destination," CapeNature responded.
The reptile was shot a few hours later by the owner when it appeared on a sandbank. It was a female, 2.5 metres long. The owner signed a statement not to trade with the carcass and applied for permission to keep the carcass.
"The decision to allow the reptile to be shot was not taken lightly but was a necessary response to safeguard unsuspecting humans in the vicinity.
"Thankfully, due to the swift and decisive action, no children or adults were harmed. Members of the public are to contact their local authorities immediately should they find themselves in a similar situation."
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