15,000 Crocodiles Escape Farm, Residents Urged to Remain Indoors

A crocodile farm in South Africa has reported that around 15,000 crocodiles escaped after heavy rains forced the farm to open its flood gates.

Local reports indicate that heavier than normal rains forced the owners of the Rakwena Crocodile Farm to open the permeable crocodile gates so as to prevent the pens from being damaged in the rising flood waters. When the gates were opened it allowed the farm's 15,000 crocodiles to leave their pens and enter the Limpopo River.

Workers at the farm have since been scrambling to recover the reptiles, and have been able to recover about half the animals, but still have several thousand more loose with no idea about how long it will be before they can recover them all or if at all.

"There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River. Now there are a lot. We've been recapturing them as and when the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property," Zane Langman, son-in-law of the farm's owner Johan Boshoff, told South Africa's Beeld newspaper.

"We've been recapturing them as, and when, the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property," Langman added.

The Limpopo Province is experiencing heavier than normal rainfall that has produced several floods in the region resulting in at least 10 deaths. In neighboring Mozambique flood waters have displaced tens of thousands of people.

The reptiles that escaped were Nile Crocodiles which can reach lengths of up to 15 feet. They are also able to reach speeds of 22 mph in the water and up to 10 mph while on land. Residents have been cautioned to remain inside and call professional reptile handlers if one is spotted on their property.

There has been an increase in commercial crocodile farms which breed the reptiles for their skin and in some cases their meat. Crocodile skins are sold to manufacturers that produce belts, shoes, handbags and coats, among other accessories.