Farming, all around the world, is a difficult job at the best of times, but South African farmers can add wildlife to their list of challenges to be handled.
The safety of the farm workers is a concern in addition to the welfare of the crocodile. In circumstances like this it is always desired to move the crocodile to a sanctuary. The wildlife jurisdiction in the region is approached and the appropriate district officer adds yet another task to his ever growing list.
These re-location exercises are very frequently lessons in extreme patience.
Crocodiles are not amenable to polite requests to re-locate so other measures have to be employed. Darting them with a tranquillizer medication isn’t an option as they have a tendency to dive to the security of the base of the dam and all hopes of grabbing them disappear.
If they’re really small they can often be captured by hand from a ship using a flashlight to attract them. This is usually done at night by shining the light into the water. Their fascination causes them to rise to the surface where they can be caught and crated.
The bigger ones need a specially constructed trap. The trap is baited with something yummy to a crocodile and left at the water’s edge. The trap has to be checked on a daily basis in order not to endanger the life of a trapped croc with him in the trap for a long time. As he grabs the meat the mechanism is released closing the door and we have him.
Now that’s the easy, boring part. Getting him out of the snare and ready to make the trip to his new home is another challenge.
The first step would be to drop a noose through the snare and around his upper jaw. This can be time consuming if he chooses to not co-operate. After his top jaw is secured the trap is opened and he’s pulled out. Although this sounds like one must have hands of steel it’s not the case in any respect. The muscles which a crocodile uses to open his jaws aren’t very strong and, as long as you get your hands around closed jaws, it is not tough to hold them shut.
This is certainly not a 1 man job since the thrashing tail, which is more dangerous than the jaws at this time, has to be held securely or the”jockey” could be thrown well clear with a single swipe. A rope noose is slipped over both limbs and the jaws are taped shut. At this time the croc usually gives up and he is securely tied up and loaded onto the vehicle ready to start the journey to his new home.
Fortunately there are lots of conservation minded farmers that are prepared to initiate a capture to be able to protect a crocodile.