Wildlife: Two-metre reptile bumps canoeist’s boat in Umngeni

2008-12-30 00:00

A veteran Pietermaritzburg paddler, Keith Ellerker, got the fright of his life on Saturday morning when a huge crocodile banged against his canoe while he was practising in a dangerous reptile-infested part of the Umngeni River.

Ellerker (49), who is a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Club, was training for the internationally renowned Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon, which he will be doing for the 31st time from January 15.

On the river below the Greytown Road in the Cramond area, he had a close encounter with a crocodile more than two metres long.

“Since 1975 I have been training in this river, and seeing crocodiles lying on the bank of the river meant nothing much to me, but this time this one, which is the biggest of them all, gave [me] such a fright,” said Ellerker.

A few metres from the area where Ellerker came into contact with the reptile is a crocodile farm. Locals said the animals often escape from the farm while they are still tiny and grow up in the river.

Ellerker, who has been a member of the organising committee for the KZN Canoe Club for 20 years, said he felt something forcing his canoe forward.

“As I was paddling past the power line area I heard this thing knocking against my canoe and [felt something] pushing [my canoe] forward. When I turned to look, I saw this huge end of the crocodile diving into the water. I got frightened, but I think it also got frightened, more than I did, because it suddenly sped away in the opposite direction,” said Ellerker.

Although he denied that the crocodiles in the Umngeni River have escaped from his farm, farm owner Trevor Kelly said he is prepared to help in removing the stray reptile from the river. “But I still have to get permission from the parks board [Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife],” he said.

Despite coming across crocodiles every time he trains, Ellerker said he and other canoeists have also seen lots of big snakes such as mambas during the Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Ellerker, who along with his paddling partner, Mike Elginton, came 32nd in this year’s race, said he is training hard for the 2009 Canoe Marathon. Participants are paddling in single canoes next month.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.