End to ‘cruel’ crocodile cages

2012-05-04 00:00

THE executive board of the South African Crocodile Farming Association (Sacfa) no longer supports the practice of keeping crocodiles in separate pens.

Sacfa chairperson Robert Reader said in a statement yesterday that until proper research had been conducted into the practice, the board would no longer support it.

This comes after the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) charged a KwaZulu-Natal crocodile farmer on April 26 with keeping more than 200 of his crocodiles in inhumane conditions.

Coen Labuschagne, owner of Metcroc Boerdery in Pongola, was charged with keeping the animals in separate pens that were unsheltered and too small and in which the water was too shallow.

Labuschagne, who is a member of Sacfa, said that for the sake of the industry and the association he had agreed to remove the crocodiles from the pens.

He said he had already removed a quarter of the animals, which he would continue to keep on his farm.

The NSPCA’s inspector, Nazareth Appalsamy, said it was shocking that someone should first be charged before any thought was given to the animals.

“We [the NSPCA] are still going ahead with the criminal charge against Labuschagne. The NSPCA has been trying to work with Labuschagne for the past four months to remove the crocodiles.”

Appalsamy said Labuschagne received two warnings, but did nothing about the matter.

The NSPCA regards it as cruel to keep crocodiles separately in single pens, as they are social animals.

Appalsamy said the reptiles had been penned up tightly for up to three months to restrict their movement and prevent them from fighting and damaging their skins before slaughtering.

Labuschagne said the crocodiles were kept in large dams on his farm for about four years and then moved to the small pens for two to six weeks, by which time they were market-ready and could be sold for their skins.

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