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Posted by W von Papinešu on March 31, 2003 at 20:07:03:
DIE BURGER (Cape Town, S Africa) 31 March 03 Man-eating croc on the loose (Jan Taljaard)
Oudtshoorn: A crocodile with a taste for human flesh is probably still on the loose in Oudtshoorn after it escaped from a crocodile farm in the area during the floods last week.
The animal, named Jaws, poses a real danger to residents and thousands of people attending the festival in Oudsthoorn this week, Jenny Schmidt, spokesperson for Cango Wildlife Ranch, admitted on Monday.
The crocodile farm first tried to keep the disappearance of the Nile crocodile a secret in the hope that the reptile of more than 3m would be found in time. Since his escape, Jaws has been spotted in the stream near the Pick 'n Pay centre and at a low-level bridge in the area.
"It was a mistake not to announce the disappearance immediately," Schmidt admitted. "However, we cannot keep it quiet any longer, because there are thousands of festival-goers who walk or sleep near the Grobbelaars River at night."
The crocodile was caught on a farm along the Limpopo River four years ago after it apparently attacked two farm workers and dragged them into the water. Because crocodiles are endangered, it was decided not to kill the animal but to take it to Oudtshoorn for breeding purposes.
Captain Eddie Cronje, police spokesperson, warned festival goers to stay away from the river until the crocodile was found. He criticised Cango's management for not reporting the disappearance of the crocodile earlier.
"We are looking at possible criminal charges," he said.
He said it was imperative that Jaws be caught as soon as possible. "Police can no longer catch any lizard and beat him up until he admits to being a crocodile," Cronje said. "This is the new South Africa."
Cronje said there would hardly be a better day than Tuesday (April 1) to catch the crocodile.