Croc farms in Mozambique

Read about the Nile Crocodile, its occurrence in Mozambique, the conflict with man and the part played by “croc farms”.

The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is commonly compared to the alligators and caimans, but distinguishing these for the large bottleneck of the muzzle and the fourth tooth of the upper jaw, visible when the animal closes the mouth. It also possesses an extensible pocket between the branches the mandible, which allows you to hold the slippery fish before swallowing them. It has corneas plates on the head, neck and trunk and a long, muscular tail that propels while swimming. The skin, unlike other reptiles, grows with them and is not changed. It varies from a brown or brownish green to a dark shade on the dorsal side and is much clearer, and softer, in the womb. The Nile crocodiles can live up to 45 years in the wild, up to 100 years in captivity and their major enemies are the humans.

Nile crocodiles are not usually found in groups, except during the breeding season. They swim with the help of their powerful tails, moving in the water at a top speed of a canoe. On land, in spite of having short legs, they can also move surprisingly quickly. They have been seem with camouflages like floating logs, which deceives many victims of these reptiles until death. When exposed to the sun, crocodiles increase internal temperature, opening the mouth, which also allows certain birds to get food there.

In Mozambique the highest densities of crocodiles can be found in the provinces covered by the Zambezi Valley, namely Tete, Zambezia, Manica and Sofala. In these provinces (as well as the others in the country) crocodiles share habitats with the local populations, what has caused countless injuries and deaths to the populations that use the rivers for washing clothes, fishing or search for drinking water.

In order to minimize the attack of crocodiles to humans, the local authorities of the provinces covered by the Zambezi Valley have been training local hunters to kill problematic crocodiles. Besides this, the government started to license enterpreneurs who want to grow crocodiles in captivity for the purpose of exporting skins for the leather industry.

The largest croc farms are located in Tete province, with some having about 80,000 adult crocodiles. For assigning a license for growing crocodiles in captivity, the government issues licenses that allow farmers to collect eggs in the Zambezi Delta for further incubation and growth of juveniles in captivity. After about four years, the crocodiles are skinned and their skins exported to the Asian market where they are transformed into luxurious shoes, bags, belts and wallets.

Biodinâmica has been assessing the distribution and man-croc conflict related to the Strategic Environmental Assessment, Multi-sectorial Plan and Special Land Management Plan of the Zambeze Valley and the respective Digital Model to support the decision making process, project in which the company is involved since March 2014 developing the Biodiversity section of the assessment.

Carlos Litulo

Biodiversity Specialist