Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crocodile Ranch

Earlier this year I visited our local Crocodile Ranch - it's in an unusual location because Otjiwarongo is far from their natural habitat in northern Namibia where they're found in the Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi, Liambezi and Kwando Rivers as well as in the Okavango Swamps.

Our local species is the Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, which is, (or was), widespread throughout central and southern Africa. The bigger ones in these pics are for breeding purposes.

A very large specimen going walkies - they don't seem to walk very far before flopping down on their bellies to rest.

Personally, these reptiles give me the creeps, I think it's their cold eyes that turn me off. At least with a Lion, it seems that they may be open to discussion before they eat you - not so with a croc.

One of the nurseries. If I remember correctly our guide, Tate Ganache, said that these were about two years old.

They're bred mainly for their skins which are made into belts, handbags and shoes. I checked-out some of the items on sale and was astounded at the prices they were asking, way beyond what the average person could afford (if you're inclined to adorn yourself with crocodile skin).

Apparently, some of the meat is eaten in exotic restaurants but ewwwww ... not for me thanks!

There are hundreds of young crocs in the temperature-controlled nurseries. It's pretty humid and smelly in there.

I couldn't resist asking Tate Ganache how they were slaughtered when they are ready to be harvested and he replied that they're dispatched with a .22 bullet in the skull.

Smile for the camera.

A croc's teeth are not used for chewing, they serve as clamps to hold their prey while they drag it under the water. If a tooth is lost, it is soon replaced by a new one. They account for many human deaths in Africa each year

Crocodile Toilets - everyone knows it's not cool to pee in the pool ...

Crocodiles have an immensely long evolutionary history, 'relics' from the Mesozoic Era between 140 to 240 million years ago, they have seen continents shift and have persisted through many ice ages - can they survive the age of Man?

Amy Schoeman - Notes On Nature



  1. Funny how its okay for us to kill them yet it sounds frighteningly morbid for them to munch on a few of us

    I think its good the products made from their skins are overpriced, less demand less killing..also a shot through the skull is far more mercifull than the slaughterhouse method
    as an aside...personally I believe..if there is a hell..
    "we all" will burn for our cruel treatment of our fellow earthlings we consider inferior or frightening..just my growing opinion :)

  2. I'm like you...not really a fan of crocodiles but have seen many in Australia and Kenya. I do like to look at them though they send shivers down my spine and I will not get too close. I laughed though about your lion comment *smile. (Thanks for your kind words on my jiko stoves project in Kenya).

  3. Yes, you're right Monica - if they were cheaper, every Tom, Dick & Sally would be draped in crocodile hide - already hunters have almost shot them into extinction to feed the European and other markets and, only in recent years, have sanctuaries been created to ensure their survival.

    As for burning in hell for our cruelty, I think that we won't have to wait that long - we're creating our own hell right here on earth ...

  4. You're welcome Penny - it is indeed admirable work that you are doing and you've got me thinking ...

    Yeah, crocs do tend to mesmerize one in a prehistoric way - but those eyes are so freaky ...

  5. Certainly not my favourite animal. We had a dog taken off our front lawn when we lived on the Hunyani River in Zimbabwe which put me off even further!!Diane

  6. Yeah Diane - small dogs are a favorite of crocs because, being unable to chew, they can swallow them in one go.

    When my daughter was working at a Lodge on the Chobe river I was worried about her all the time and when I visited I was constantly checking out the water ...

  7. A very interesting post ... although I must say I feel sorry for those poor crocs (as menacing as they are) .... being bred to be turned into overpriced belts and shoes ... poor creatures. I have eaten croc meat before ... it tasted a little like chicken. But it was one of those things I've done once, but wouldn't do again. (Loved the toilet sign at the end !)

  8. Yeah, I agree with you Lynda, I'm not too chuffed with the idea of production-line breeding like that either - of course the people who're making big bucks from it will argue that they're creating jobs blah, blah ...

    I'm not a great meat-eater and the thought of eating reptile flesh is not appealing at all.

  9. Just this past month they caught one in the Chicago river (don't know the type). I'm sure you have heard about the problem with people disposing their "pets" in the wrong places.

    Pictures of them out in the wild are more interesting and dangerous.

  10. I've heard about the problem of people abandoning crocs and pythons lisleman - do you know of any cases where they've attacked people?

    Sometimes they get dumped in our dams too ...

  11. I once visited a crocodile farm in Vic Falls and the thing I thought odd is that with most animals the babies are what interest us, but with crocodiles the babies are quite boring it's the big ones that we want to see to get a huge fright. You're right it's their eyes.

  12. Yeah Laurie, perhaps they're not so interesting because there are so many in those nurseries - according to my reference material, experts estimate that, in the wild, not more than 1% of eggs which hatch make it to adulthood ...

  13. Hi, I don't like the look of them either but as you say they have survived centuries but I find it repulsive to hear of them being 'harvested'?!

  14. Yeah, I think aurora said it well in the first comment Peggy - I guess the bottom line is that people don't NEED to wear crocodile skin products to survive or be happy ...

  15. I had no idea that crocs are the Namibian equivalent of british sheep and cows; no difference?

  16. Hehe gg ... no, we've got plenty of cows and sheep here too but they can't eat people ( I think) ...

  17. the toilet sign is hilarious

    women, left
    men, left
    crocodiles, right

    why do they have to be printed in the same sign board :))