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24 Jun 2015

What a croc!

Graham Barclay (North Coast Courier)

A one metre Nile crocodile basking in the sun in Zinkwazi lagoon. Photo Credit: David Robinson

Yes dear tourists, there are crocodiles in our rivers!

On the afternoon of Saturday, June 20, a tourist from Johannesburg got a surprise he never bargained for when he spotted a metre-long Nile crocodile basking in the sun under a farm bridge across the Zinkwazi River.

David Robinson spotted the juvenile croc as he was paddling up the lagoon to go fishing.

He managed to photograph the reptile before it stealthily left the bank and re-entered the water.

“It was an unbelievable sighting at a place I really did not expect to see a crocodile, so I thought it had obviously escaped from a local reptile park,” said Robinson, who recently enjoyed his first holiday to Zinkwazi with his young family.

“I was really surprised by what I saw in front of me, especially since I told my son five days earlier that there were no crocodiles in the lagoon.”

Reptile expert Neville Wolmarans said there are Nile crocodiles in every fresh water source north of Durban, including La Mercy lagoon, the Umhlanga river, the Umdloti river and the Tugela river – where the population of the crocodiles is believed to originate.

“I know of four big crocs in the Nonoti River that have been there for a number of years,” said Wolmarans.

“Due to the overgrowth of dense reed-beds as the Zinkwazi lagoon narrows towards the freeway, it is easy for these animals to go unnoticed, but residents are definitely aware of their presence.”

Wolmarans said the rivers and estuaries of the North Coast make up a thriving ecosystem and that the crocodiles feed on prey items including water-fowl, fish and reed-rats.

In the past, floods have allowed crocodiles to escape various reptile parks in the area. They are washed out to sea, and once they find the shore, they move towards the closest fresh-water source.