Croc farming capital intensive


CROCODILES are among animals that feature prominently in the human-wildlife conflict.
In communities with water bodies that have crocodiles, men, women and children are losing life and limb to croc attacks.
While research has shown that only six out of the 23 crocodile species are dangerous to humans and smaller crocodiles considered incapable of killing, they however remain dangerous predators.
Crocodiles are widespread and found in most perennial river systems in the country and across the world.
Despite the crocodiles earning the country revenue through exports of products made from their skins, they are causing havoc in various communities.
According to the Crocodile Farmers Association of Zimbabwe (CFAZ)’s executive manager, Susan Childes, crocodile farming began as a result of the need to engage in sustainable utilisation of the wild crocodile population.
“Zimbabwe’s crocodile management is internationally acclaimed and is an outstanding example of co-operation between Government and the private sector,” she said.
“The crocodiles were given a measure of protection in 1961 and in anticipation of human-crocodile conflict, emphasis was placed on sustainable utilisation to give the wild crocodile population value.
“Since then this association has been important in the development of crocodile farming as a mainstream agro-wildlife industry.”
Childes, however, alluded to the fact that crocodile farming was capital intensive hence its low uptake by the majority.
“The project is long-term, requiring at least seven-to-eight years to break even,” she said.
“It is also seasonal, requiring very strong financial support as working capital. “With high interest rates and current liquidity issues, it becomes very expensive to run a successful crocodile farm.
“Challenges facing crocodile farmers in Zimbabwe include inconsistent supplies of high quality feed, increasing power costs, increasing costs of levies and/or permits as well as increasing labour costs.
“The lucrative skin markets are all abroad and crocodile farming needs a lot of money to produce top quality products to meet these market demands.
“The production of high quality crocodile skins requires intensive and skilled management.”
The Nile crocodiles (crocodylus niloticus) are common in Zimbabwe and were heavily exploited for their skins in an uncontrolled manner throughout much of Africa in the 1950s and 60s.
Since the 1960s, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) (formerly the Department of National Parks and Wild Life Management) has promoted crocodile ranching.
Crocodile production has been practised for years in the country, with annual production ranging from about 80 000 to 100 000 crocodiles.
The industry employs approximately
1 100 permanent staff directly involved in crocodile farming.
Meanwhile, the CAMPFIRE Association, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Crocodile Farmers’ Association Zimbabwe (CFAZ) are assisting crocodile victims.
Jimmyson Kazangarare, the chairman of CFAZ, said the association would assist communities by donating artificial limbs.
The CFAZ acts as a liaison body between the crocodile farmers and the PWMA.
Membership is voluntary and is largely made up of growers and producers of crocodile skins and crocodile meat.
Members are located throughout the country, but are concentrated in the hot regions along the Zambezi River, Lake Kariba and in the Lowveld.
Each year, members of the association are allocated a permit by the PWMA to collect crocodile eggs from the wild.
The relevant district councils earn revenue from the sale of the eggs.
Crocodiles are also part of the attractions that lure tourists into the country.


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