We went with Justin and Claudia to the local crocodile breeding park to see how it all worked, it is only a few minutes away from the farm so very local. They breed the African Nile Crocodile here.
There are over a 1000 crocodile's housed in the dams and they are mainly bred for export, the main market being Italy. The first croc we were introduced to was a female one called stumpy, she was born without a tail so would normally drown and therefore is kept separate from the rest, normally she would be with another tail-less croc but he is away filming for a movie!
After that we looked at a baby crocodile which was about a foot long. The handler put a small elastic band around its mouth so it couldn't snap and then handed it round. I thought it was going to be all hard skinned but to my surprise it was very soft we then felt its teeth they were very very sharp, even though it was small. After this we made our way down the dams to look at the older crocs which ranged from 2 years upwards.
They were hundreds of them just lying in the ponds and even more lying on the banks of the dam, some were a lot larger than others, they grow as quick as they can eat and get fed for six months of the year with barrow loads of dead chickens. They do occasionally get the odd local bird as well if they are not quick enough! We were told that for every one on the surface there are probably at least 3 underwater that you can't see!
We then headed to the furthest last pond where the biggest crocodile was lurking, the keeper prodded the water with a long stick provoking the crocodile into jumping out of the water, he must have been nearly six metres long! He came out of the water and grabbed the stick a few times and we got some good pictures. This big boy is kept away from all the others, as he would be in the wild, because he is too aggressive and will kill the other males.
Next he started to throw some chickens into the dam to show us how quick they would grab them, it was interesting as soon as the chickens landed they all rushed in and grabbed it tearing it to pieces. There was one that landed on the side and this took a bit longer for them to locate but as soon as they did the same thing happened.
On the way back across the walkway he started to also make the crocs snap. It was amazing how quick it was and also how much noise it made, it sounded like a loud champagne cork popping, he said that they can hear it from the offices sometime.
They bought the baby crocs in for about 35 Rand and when they are four or five and up to the right size and weight they sell for about 35,000 Rand so not a bad business.
It was a very interesting tour but you wouldn't want to fall in!