Cape Town Croc. Hunt
The hunt is on - 'Crocodile' spotted in Steenbras Dam
A MYSTERIOUS creature spotted only once in the murky waters of the Steenbras Dam has since October been the subject of an intense search by City of Cape Town and Cape Nature officials.
The hunt for the Helderberg's own "Loch Ness" monster was sparked one late afternoon by a City of Cape Town employee who was fishing in a shady bay of the 260 hectare upper dam when he saw the beast. He said it came rustling out from the undergrowth and slipped into the water. He fled, making a report that sparked a massive search.
Steenbras Dam supplies just over 10% of the City of Cape Town's water. Although a public picnic spot nearby was closed a few years ago, only the 60-odd staff and researchers with permits are allowed into the area. People illegally gaining entry for fishing and boating is also a problem. The City of Cape Town believe its employee may have sighted a two-metre long crocodile.
While such an animal may find it a lonely existence, the Steenbras Dam, which stretches along the Hottentots Holland mountain range for many kilometres, with its large pine forest plantations and fynbos is an ideal habitat. Up to now it seems, the most dangerous creatures there have been snakes. Conservation officials from Cape Nature and staff at the dam have combed the area on foot, motorcycle and boats, looking for traces of the animal.
Just like Scotland's elusive "Nessie", nothing has been found, but the employee who first saw it has stuck to his story.
The City of Cape Town is not taking any chances. According to municipal acting media manager Charles Cooper, a Cape Nature field officer walks the dam shore and patrols with a motorcycle approximately every second day. Boat patrols and workers on the dam have been told to be on the lookout for unusual shapes in the water or basking reptiles along the shoreline. As to how a crocodile - if it is a crocodile - may have come to be in the dam remains a mystery. Karin Prins, who works at one of the Cape's few crocodile farms, Le Bonheur in Paarl, suggests the only possible way could have been that it was acquired illegally by someone who thought a baby croc was cute, but dumped the animal in the dam when it grew too big to handle.
Escaped crocodiles in the Western Cape are extremely rare. In August 2004 Le Bonheur had to fetch one of its three-metre long reptiles that had escaped, from a dam at the Santé Winelands Hotel and Wellness Spa.
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