Coast KZN

04 Mar 2021

Wacky wildlife week in Richards Bay

Dave Savides (Zululand Observer) Picture: Snake catcher Peter Daniel with some of the brood of 22 pythons he recovered in the port

THE Port of Richards Bay plays host to a wide variety of both marine and terrestrial creatures. Unfortunately, both human activity and the inherent dangers of the shipping industry often counteract the hospitality provided by the harbour’s natural estuarine environment.

For the second time in as many weeks, a green sea turtle was found dead in the port waters. Discovered last Saturday and already in a state of decomposition, marks on its body indicated it had suffered serious injury, most likely from a ship’s propeller but possibly from a shark attack.

Ezemvelo District Conservation Officer Phumla Zulu inspects the green sea turtle at the Richards Bay Ski-Boat Club

The turtle, 80 cm in length and with a 76 cm carapace width, was taken to the Richards Bay Ski-Boat Club from where Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) removed it to Enseleni for disposal.

‘We cannot simply throw it in the river as many people drink from there and it would be a health hazard,’ said EKZNW District Conservation Officer, Phumla Zulu.

On a more serious note, a 2.4 m crocodile was found dead in the Casuarinas area last week, apparently having been shot.  Authorities believe this may be a croc regularly seen in the area, and that it could have been killed by anglers who frequent the Casuarinas fishing spots.

The crocodile that was found dead at the Casuarinas

But it’s not all bad news. Last Friday, resident snake catcher Peter Daniel was called to the harbour to remove and rescue no fewer than 22 newly-hatched pythons that were found inside an old tyre. These will also be handed over to Ezemvelo officials for release at selected sites in the region.

A nest of 22 baby pythons collected in the port area

And to add to the week’s wildlife diary, the oft-sighted Mzingazi canal hippo stopped traffic on a few occasions during the week; unperturbed by the stir it was creating as it munched away at the lush grass adjacent to the John Ross Highway near the Medway intersection.

The resident canal hippo stopped traffic on the John Ross Highway