Pretoria's croc could be a kidnap victim

The crocodile playing Loch Ness monster in the Hennops River, west of Pretoria, might have been kidnapped, or else it was an escapee, an expert said on Wednesday.

“There is no way it can be found there naturally,” said Chris de Beer, general curator of the Pretoria Zoo’s aquarium and reptile park.

“It is outside its natural habitat.”

De Beer was part of a search party that went looking for the 2m-long reptile on a farm on the banks of the river on Tuesday.

It was first spotted there about a week and a half ago. Although farm owner Ernst Botma had grown fond enough of it to name it, he did not want children in the area to become Charlie’s supper.

So on Wednesday De Beer, his colleague Lourens Nel and journalists set out to find and hopefully catch Charlie.
But the crocodile was either shy, or decided who would be the proper Charlies, and thus only left tracks to prove its existence.

De Beer said catching the animal is not really the zoo’s responsibility. He would contact Gauteng nature conservation in the hope that it might be able to make a plan to remove it.

He believes Charlie escaped from a crocodile farm or was removed from his natural environment when he was a baby crocodile.

“We often get people coming to us telling us that they had brought young crocodiles from places like St Lucia. It is definitely the wrong thing to catch a crocodile.

“They look very cuddly when they are little, but when they grow bigger they become a problem.”

Besides, one has to have a special permit to keep a crocodile, which is not easily obtained. Places like crocodile farms have to meet specific requirements to be granted permits, De Beer said.

Earlier this month, a 1,5m-long alligator was found in the fifth-floor flat of New York resident Antoine Yates. To the alligator’s credit though, it was another “pet”, a 180kg tiger, that grabbed Yates and ripped the flesh on his leg down to the bone.

Yates, who is to face reckless endangerment charges, told reporters at the time he kept the animals because he wanted “to show the whole world that we all can get along”.

It might be just what Charlie is trying to prove.—Sapa

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