15,000 crocs escape during Sth Africa floods

A number of crocs have since been recaptured, but at least half remain on the loose, scattered far and wide. Photo / Thinkstock
A number of crocs have since been recaptured, but at least half remain on the loose, scattered far and wide. Photo / Thinkstock

South Africa's army and police have been called in to rescue residents from thousands of crocodiles that escaped from a farm where the floodgates were opened because of torrential rains.

About 15,000 predators fled the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in the far north of the country when owners were forced to open the gates to prevent a storm surge, local newspaper Beeld reported.

A number have since been recaptured, but at least half remain on the loose, scattered far and wide.

Some turned up on a school rugby pitch 120km away.

The surrounding province of Limpopo has been hit by serious floods that have killed 10 people and made many more homeless.

"Before, there were only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River. Now there are plenty," said Zane Langman, the son-in-law of Rakwena's owner.

"We go catch them when farmers phone us and say crocs are around."

Langman used a motor boat to rescue some local residents who had climbed onto a garage roof to escape the rising floods.

"When we arrived there, the crocodiles were circling them," he said.

The army had been called in to help track down the reptiles, said police spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi.

"Police, the army, and people from the community are assisting."

No incidents involving crocodile attacks had been reported, he added.

Hundreds of kilometres downstream, the Limpopo River floods have also ravaged neighbouring Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes.

- AFP

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