Crocodiles are hunted for their skins, meat, oil and claws. Over catching of this animal has led to the decline of this species in wild populations.
Although it is not a new idea, breeding this animal under captivity is a developing industry in some parts of the world. Crocodiles have been bred in farms since early 20th century. The majority of these farms were tourist attractions with wild caught alligators or crocodiles under captivity. Decline of the wild populations led to the prohibitions around the word.
In crocodile farming operations, the idea is to obtain skins, meat and other products without stressing wild populations. This animal has its own characteristics and they should be learned well before any economic investment. In this review, our aim is to identify these characteristics and inform farmers about the challenges, downsides and advantages of crocodile farming with emphasis on their biology and present farming operations.
In some areas it is possible to collect eggs from the wild. This is mostly approved in areas with high populations to ensure population control. But mostly it is forbidden to collect these eggs from the wild because of the endangered status.
Crocodilian farmers must obtain their eggs by buying from existing alligator farms if they do not have broodstock. It is a well known fact that captive alligators behave differently compared to wild specimens. It is not easy to achieve successful reproduction. Farm raised alligators accepts crowding better than wilds ones as well as confinement. The social establishment amongst the captive alligators allows them to breed more frequently than the wild alligators.
It is very important to establish ponds with the right land to water ratio to ensure successful breeding. Ponds must be built 3-1 land-water ratio with a long shoreline. The ponds should be built in such a way that male alligators don’t see each other during mating season. This will decrease the amount of fights between males. Breeding ponds should have 1.8m depth during the breeding season with drains. Drains are necessary to drain water to capture alligators if needed. Alligators are known to dig and climb, because of this, shorelines in the ponds should not be closer than 30 m to the fences
Crocodile biology and behavior
Here are a few things you should know about how crocodiles live and behave:
- Crocodiles are cold-blooded animals, which makes them extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Only a 3°C variance in their core body temperature can slow their metabolism by half, hampering their ability to absorb food and grow. This can be a challenge during the winter months in places like South Africa and Zimbabwe.
- Crocodiles reach maturity at 3 years old, when they can mate and produce offspring. Female Nile crocodiles can lay between 30 to 45 eggs, once a year around October or November.
- On crocodile farms, the eggs are removed and placed, for better control, in an incubator. When they’re about to hatch, baby crocodiles make a high pitched call and then crack the shell with a temporary “egg-tooth” on the tip of the snout.
- The temperature of incubation determines the sex of the crocodiles. Temperature between 26ºC and 30ºC produces mostly females and between 30ºC and 33ºC produces mostly males.
Basic crocodile welfare requirements
A crocodilian farmer should provide some necessary conditions to achieve good health and growth for the animals in their farm;
- a) There should be appropriate food and water sufficient for healthy culture conditions.
- b) Area of the farm should be suitable for the culture conditions and crocodiles/alligators to exhibit normal behavior.
- c) Adequate protection from predation should be provided for the animals
- d) Animals should be protected from diseases and if exposed they should be cared as fit
Crocodile farming has the potential to provide an answer for the future management of this species. Controlled breeding and support of the natural habitats will result in a sustainable crocodile production for future generations. Especially in developing countries, farming will result in renewable resourse management rather than exploitation and destruction of the species. (Blake et al., 1975; Revol, 1995; Stickney, 2000; Yılmaz, 2000; Tisdell, 2005; Peucker et al., 2006; Macgregor, 2006).
Get KWS License
According to the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act of the Laws of Kenya, every person planning to keep crocodiles or any other wild animals should apply for a farming permit. This application is made to the Director KWS through the nearest KWS regional office. The annually renewable license fee is priced at Ksh2000.
Why the high demand for crocodile products?
Crocodile products have a wide range of uses in different parts of the world.
While crocodiles are largely farmed for their skins, for leather production, there are other uses for crocodile parts.
However, the main by-product of crocodile farming is meat. Other crocodile parts are also used for various reasons including:
- blood (for the pharmaceutical industry),
- bones, fat (for traditional medicines), and
- teeth, heads, skulls (tourist curios), etc.
A mature crocodile can produce up to 120 centimetres of quality belly skin which goes for $500 (Ksh50,000) on the international market. Apart from the skin, one can sell the meat of which 1 Kilogram of meat fetches a farm-gate price of Ksh350 on average (A mature crocodile can produce 200 Kilograms of meat).
The crocodile’s skull, teeth and skeleton can be sold to curio makers. In addition, one can turn the farm into a sanctuary and charge a gate fee to those visiting. Going by that rule, a small farm can rake in Ksh15,000,000 to Ksh30,000,000 per year.
Here is a list of major crocodile farms in Kenya today.
- Kenya Crocodile Farm (Mamba Village; Mombasa)
- Nairobi Mamba Village .
- Kazuri/London Crocodile Farm
- Nile Crocodile Farm
- Galaxy Crocodile Farm
- Collins Mueke Crocodile Farm
- Baobab Crocodile Farms
- Mark East Brook Crocodile Farm
- LaFarge Ecosystem
- Kirinyaga Crocodile Farm
- Malindi Crocodile And Snake Park
- Haller Park