Mazowe croc nests raided

Late last year I arrived at Hippo Pools with a client from England. On arrival I was told that, camped on the other side of the river in the Garura Eco-Tourism project, were crocodile egg collectors with a permit from National Parks. I was very disturbed to hear that they had collected 82 crocodiles

eggs from a nest on the island situated right in front of our chalets (within 100metres).

As we had also just held a school Eco-education camp for the local Bangari School, it did not make sense to me how such a destructive practice could be allowed. There are very few adults crocodiles on the Mazowe River and from the report I received I judged that this collector was insistent on raiding all 10 or thereabouts nests found on the entire stretch of river. This would appear to be highly irresponsible behaviour on behalf of the holder of the permit and also by the issuer of the permit. We need to clarify the following: 1. Is it sustainable to deplete every crocodile nest in the relatively small but highly disturbed river system such as the Mazowe River? 2. Have any surveys been done to see how many breeding adults there are on the Mazowe River? 3. Is it a policy that every nest found could be raided leaving nothing to natural breeding? 4. What protection is given to Safari Camps such as Hippo Pools that these nests should be left as a possible tourist attraction? Hippo Pools invests considerable resources in Wildlife Protection and in general enhancement of the area. Crocodiles nesting there (only one pair) are well known and monitored daily by the owners and management. The nests are therefore not in danger whatsoever from unnatural causes. We feel that all nests within at least one kilometre of the safari camp are protected in order to serve as a tourist attraction. Crocodiles are highly endangered on the Mazowe River system and we could say the next species to become extinct there. We have already lost about six large wildlife species in the Umfurudzi Safari Area there in the last 25 years and we certainly don’t need to loose any more. I suggest that raiding a crocodile nest right in front of a Safari Camp, which relies on this kind of activity for its very survival, is totally unethical and the perpetrator of this dastardly act should return the eggs where they were found.

I.S Jarvis, Executive Director, Wilderness Africa Trust

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