Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Malawi & Kenya act against substandard crocodile farms - via Herp Digest

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013: LILONGWE, Malawi; NAIROBI, Kenya––The Lilongwe SPCA, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, the Malawi Department of Animal Health Livestock Management, and local police on November 8, 2013 confiscated more than 200 crocodiles from the Koma Crocodile Farm at Monkey Bay, Mangochi, and filed cruelty charges against the owner.

“There was no food or water for the crocodiles, their cages had very little shade, and all the ponds were dry,” Lilongwe SPCA director Richard Ssuna told Sophie Gomani of the Malawi News Agency. 

Opened in 1988, the Koma Crocodile Farm was originally a tourist attraction. “People used to come here to see the majestic crocodiles, but now, due to the animals’ poor health and living conditions, many people prefer to go to other crocodile farms,” manager Macdadly Chiwaya told Gomani. Chiwaya admitted that 15 crocodiles had died on the farm due to starvation and dehydration since July 2013.

Ssuna attributed the raid to the success of a national police sensitization workshop held in 2011, sponsored by the Royal SPCA International, a division of the Royal SPCA of Great Britain.

The raid in Malawi was followed a week to the day later by the announcement of Kenya Wildlife Service senior warden for the Taita region Samuel Rukaria that the crocodiles kept as a tourist attraction at the privately owned Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary would be taken into custody and relocated to a safer place. 

Opened in 1972 by Hilton International, the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is the major visitor attraction for the Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge, both now operated by Sarova Hotels. 

“Crocodile farming is not bad but it has to be done according to our standards,” Rukaria told Raphael Mwadime of the Nairobi Star.

Bura Maktau ward representative Flumence Mshila told Mwadime that “The reptiles are a threat to the security of Bura people. The animals do not benefit them in any way but put their lives in danger,” leaving their habitat during the rainy season and seeking a more suitable place to live.

The actions in Malawi and Kenya came about a year after Metroc Broedery crocodile farm owner Coen Labuscagne of Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, was fined the equivalent of $33,000 U.S. dollars by the South African Department of Agriculture & Environment for housing crocodiles in single pens shorter than the length of their bodies, following an investigation by the National SPCA of South Africa.

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