Crocodile boom gets out of hand in Vietnam province

By Gia Khanh - Le Lam, Thanh Nien News

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The escaped crocodile that Luong Van Sal of Dong Nai Province caught Monday. Photo: Le Lam The escaped crocodile that Luong Van Sal of Dong Nai Province caught Monday. Photo: Le Lam


A farmer in the southern province of Dong Nai on Monday caught a large crocodile in a swamp near his house, believing the saurian had escaped from one of many farms that recently cropped up around a local reservoir.
Luong Van Sal of Vinh Cuu District said the two meter long crocodile weighed 32.5 kilograms.
Soon after shocking it, he taped it to a long rod and reported his catch to the local authorities.
Crocodile farming has become popular in Dong Nai’s Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan districts, which border the La Nga River and Tri An Reservoir.
Experts now warn that the farms lack relevant safety measures.
On November 11, another crocodile was found in the pond of Nguyen Vu Ha, not so far from Sal’s house.
After failing to anesthetize the 30-kg reptile, local park rangers decided to shoot it dead.
According to Dinh Quan park rangers, more than 150 families in the district are raising between 50-1,000 crocodiles each.
That's a rough total of around 94,000 crocs.
New profits
Many farmers said they began raising crocodiles in the past several years due to high profits.
Tran Thi Hanh said she keeps over 300 crocodile on about 500 square meters in Dinh Quan District.
She assured a visiting reporter that the area has been carefully secured.
However, her small lake sits astride a large canal that feeds into the La Nga River.

A crocodile farm in Dong Nai Province. Photo: Gia Khanh
On a nearby farm, Nguyen Van Nhat, who is raising about 70 crocodiles, said: “Many people have built crocodile farms in the past several years because of the high price of the meat.”
Huynh Van Tan, the owner of the La Nga Farm, said he sells baby crocs and buys mature animals back from local farmers.
“The market price for crocodiles has jumped from VND130,000 (US$6) per kilo to VND210,000 recently, prompting a surge in the number of crocodile farmers,” he said.
Tan sells young crocodiles for up to VND450,000 each, an increase of VND100,000 from the previous years.
New concerns
While farmers insist they do not let their valuable reptiles escape, many residents say that several crocs have turned up loose in the area.
Tran Van Mui, director of the Dong Nai Culture Nature Reserve, said the government should establish and enforce a strict safety criteria for crocodile farms.
“We have asked the local authorities to ban crocodile farming in the reserve because escaped crocodiles threaten the safety of residents and tourists,” he said.
According to Ton Ha Quoc Dung of Dong Nai Forest Protection Department, crocodiles are listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which bans the transnational trade of the animals.
But it is still legal to farm the reptile and park rangers can only monitor that activity, he said.

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