The Kruger National Park (KNP) will be removing all crocodile carcasses from the Olifants and Letaba rivers. This follows the recent spate of crocodile deaths in these rivers which was first recorded at the end of May this year. "At first we thought the dead crocodiles would have no impact on the rest of the crocodile population," says Danie Pienaar, head of scientific services in the KNP.
However, there may be a chance that the healthy crocodiles could be affected when they feed on the sick ones. "We are still finding carcasses," says Danie. On Sunday August 3, Danie and his team will start with the capture of 30 crocodiles at the confluence of the Letaba and Olifants Rivers.
The aim is to estimate the percentage of the population that has been affected by the pansteatitis, a condition characterised by the hardening of the crocodile's fat into a yellow rubberlike mass. The animal loses mobility and eventually dies. Fish samples will also be collected.
The analysis of some samples sent to Sweden revealed low concentrations of organic compounds, seemingly not affecting the crocodiles. The KNP is awaiting the analysis of sediment samples. Weekly monitoring of the rivers is continuing. The Limpopo National Park (LNP) and Peace Parks team in Mozambique will monitor the situation from the border towards Massingir dam and further downstream.
This will include obtaining information from fishermen in the area. Fishing nets have been found in the Olifants River on the park's side of the border, indicating the presence of illegal fishing activity. The department of water affairs and forestry (Dwaf) undertook a survey of Kruger's rivers last week. Danie says Dwaf also tested the drinking water at Skukuza and Olifants Rest camp and found it fit for human consumption.