MET plans crocodile census

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has revealed plans to conduct a wetland game count to determine the estimated population of crocodiles and other wildlife living in rivers in the Zambezi Region.
The ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda revealed this to New Era yesterday when he was asked what the ministry plans to do about the reported increase in the number of crocodiles in Zambezi Region.

As the floodwaters rise from the Zambezi River it has been reported that the deadly crocodile population is also increasing, leaving residents in the Kabbe flood-prone areas exposed to attacks by these territorial reptiles.
In 2015 there were an estimated 2,015 crocodiles in the Zambezi/Chobe River system, while in the Kwando River system there were 680 crocodiles. “We are aware that due to floods in the Zambezi Region, when the water flows, it flows with predators such as crocodiles in search of food,” he said.

Another reason attributed to human-wildlife conflict is that overfishing has left large crocodiles struggling to catch enough fish and are likely switching to livestock and humans for food.

But Muyunda said the ministry allows for the utilisation of these predators by local communities in terms of trophy hunting and other benefits in the region.

He added that currently about 15 conservancies are utilising crocodiles for trophy hunting, meat consumption or for sale of their skin.

“Some people will eat the meat and others will sell the skin. Some will trophy-hunt while others use it for income generation through tourism when tourists come and visit these areas to see crocodiles,” Muyunda noted.
This, he says, is done to manage the animal population for crocodiles and hippos.

He advised the community members who live in these flood-prone areas to be cautious when using the river for human activities such as fishing, swimming and drawing water due to the dangers posed by such predators.
Equally, he encouraged them to be in touch with the ministry’s staff on the ground regarding any dangers encountered due to wildlife in their areas.

Kabbe South Constituency Councillor John Likando said they discovered that the crocodile population has increased which poses a serious threat to villagers.

“They are so many that each time the learners go to school they come across these territorial reptiles, which ambush people everywhere. We received a report from five to six schools that are complaining about crocodiles. We also saw a lot along the Chobe River,” Likando said.

A learner at Muzii Combined School was attacked by a crocodile while paddling his dugout canoe from school in the floodwaters.

The learner escaped with minor injuries after he wrestled his way out of the crocodile’s jaws.
Likando said two lives have so far been lost due to crocodile attacks between January and February.
According to him, a lot of villagers are also losing their livestock to crocodiles.

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