One crocodile, one bullet

Dear CapeNature,

During the December holidays you gave permission to a farmer to shoot a crocodile. Well done. If there is anything this country needs, it’s fewer crocodiles. Any animal with that many teeth is an abomination and deserves to die.

As any decent hunter knows, the best way to conserve nature is to kill it. This allows it to grow back stronger, like fynbos.

It’s possible that you have issued several shoot-on-sight orders for a range of species since then, so you might need reminding of the background to this particular case.

It all started when the Mossel Bay Advertiser received a photo of a farmer in the Albertinia district holding up a dead crocodile. I have never been there. For all I know, crocodile-killing is a Christmas tradition in those parts. Once the lambs have been slaughtered, I imagine that’s pretty much it as far as festivities go.

The media made its usual pestiferous enquiries and discovered that a farmer with a property bordering the Gouritz River had indeed executed the beast. The farmer declined to comment, which is unusual. If it had been me, I’d have made damn sure that news of my heroism spread throughout the world. Or at least as far as Slangrivier. I would expect to be made an honorary member of the Anti-Crocodile League, with full benefits including free cap and beer mug.

You must have been hoping to let dead crocs sleep, but the troublesome reporter demanded to know what the hell was going on. I suppose you had to release a statement, if only to preempt an outcry from the planet-loving crocodile-huggers out there.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, you got an urgent call from a farmer. He wasn’t happy. He said children swimming in the river had seen a crocodile. I have heard tell that children are the next generation, so it’s best we don’t have them eaten by crocodiles. And especially not if they belong to the staff. Certainly can’t have the wildlife murdering our future workforce.

The farmer said the children were traumatised. Were they from England? It seems unlikely that local kids would be overly concerned about seeing a crocodile. I’m sure they’ve seen far worse. Especially in that district. On, like, every Friday night.

Sure, they might have been traumatised if they’d seen the croc in, say, the Spar. But if you were expecting to see a crocodile in this country, you would want to start with the rivers. Most of us know this.

As you pointed out in your statement, the famous bungy jumping bridge is only a short distance away from where the croc was sighted. I’ve always thought that people who bungy jump have a healthy death wish regardless. Some of us would pay good money to see a croc lunge at a bungy jumper as he reached the bottom of his plummet. That’s a proper tourist attraction in my book.

You also said the brute could have endangered lives by going as far as the Gouritz river mouth. Very few people actually live there and I imagine you’d only set up home at the mouth in the hope of a swift and painless death. From what I’ve heard, families go to the Gouritz river mouth to get high while dad kills as many fish as he can before the brandy renders him insensible. The possibility of being savaged by a rogue crocodile would be a bonus.

Oh, wait. He’s not rogue at all. One of your people was quoted as saying, “There is no way this animal could come from a natural population.” At first I thought he meant the reptile had come from another planet inhabited entirely by members of the Crocodylidae family. Was he left behind when the mothership departed? Or was he being picked up when the ship abandoned the mission after seeing what kind of people live in Albertinia?

Then I realised that he meant the croc wasn’t a wild natural-born killer like those murderous hooligans in St Lucia. He had been raised as someone’s pet. It’s quite likely he had a name. Something like Tjaart, probably. No wonder he escaped.

Then came the Soleimani moment. And here, to avoid errors that might creep into the editing process, I quote your statement in full. “After careful review of the circumstances, including the obvious threat to life and limb to humans that the animal posed, as well as the fact that the (current) natural distribution of this species excludes the Western Cape Province, CapeNature granted permission for the landowner to shoot the crocodile.”

Completely understandable. The rugby was on and you couldn’t find anyone prepared to drive out there, dart him and have him transferred to wherever crocodiles would rather be than shot.

Besides, the Western Cape is well-known for opposing the influx of anything that is outside its natural distribution. Yes, Xhosas. I’m looking at you. Not to mention the fact that crocodiles have been around for eighty million years. Talk about overstaying your welcome. White people pale in comparison.

So that was that. The hitman was given the nod and a few hours later, the croc, thinking he heard someone shouting his name, bellied up to a sandbank and lay there with his mouth open, hoping someone would come along and throw a chop into it.

Hang on. It wasn’t a he at all. Well, I’m not going back and changing the gender. There’s enough of that going on in the world as it is. She was 2.5m long. Or, in terms everyone can understand, ten belts, six handbags, four pairs of shoes and two wallets.

You also gave the farmer permission to keep the carcass. He must have been thrilled. Not everyone has a bar with a rum dispenser in a crocodile’s mouth. The trophy will also help keep the trauma fresh in the minds of those idiot children. I just hope they don’t spot something else that scares them. Me, for instance.

Love the last line of your statement. “Members of the public are to contact their local authorities immediately should they find themselves in a similar situation.” Have you tried contacting the local authorities anywhere outside the Western Cape? Good luck with that.

Anyway, it’s great to see CapeNature diversifying. I imagine shooting baboons on the peninsula gets a bit tedious after a while. Nothing like nailing a giant lizard to liven thing up. Have you thought of teaming up with SANParks? I hear it’s open season on cyclists at the moment.

Could be fun.