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December 31, 2014 4:18 pm

Growing Jordan Valley Crocodile Threat Worries Israelis, Palestinians

avatar by Dave Bender

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Nile Crocodile hatchling. Photo: http://file.scirp.org/

Nile Crocodile hatchling. Photo: Scirp.

The usually sleepy Jordan Valley is waking up to a real B-movie nightmare as some 1,000 crocodiles are slowly overrunning a closed-down local farm, frightening neighboring Israelis and Palestinians alike, Israel’s NRG News reported on Wednesday.

And, they breed. Fast, according to Regional Council head, David Elhyani.

“We’re in an absurd situation whereby we are stuck with the fact that more than a thousand crocodiles each year lay about 600 eggs,” Elhyani noted in frustration.

In the 1990s, the council was presented with several crocodiles as a gift. Since then the population has grown explosively. While a female can bring upwards of 35 hatchlings into the world, in nature most die or are killed. In this case, however, thanks to favorable living conditions and a protected status, most of them survive.

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Two and a half years ago, 70 crocodiles escaped from the farm and the council spent two dangerous days tracking them down and recapturing them before they could reach populated Israeli and Palestinian villages nearby in the agricultural desert region.

Over time, officials found a dead crocodile in the Palestinian village of Uja, some 10 km away, apparently stolen while small by one of the Palestinian workers who raised the reptile until it got too big and dangerous. The worker then killed the creature.

Another three were tracked down to a bathtub in a private home in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv. The astonished landlord said the renters told him that, during a late night visit, they jumped over the farm’s fence and – somehow – stole the crocs.

Meanwhile, the IDF’s Civil Administration has pledged to close the farm and deal with the crocs, but has taken no action as of yet.

Two weeks ago Elhyani sent a warning letter to the head of the civil administration, demanding a resolution to the untenable situation. So far, however, the army hasn’t responded, and the council is considering its next moves.

However, Gadi Bitan, an entrepreneur who bought the crocs from the bankrupt farm, says he has no intention to give them up.

Bitan planned to grow the creatures for their skin to be sold for wallets, bags and similar items, as is done in many countries worldwide.

But two years ago, the Environment Ministry stepped in and ruled that the crocodile is a protected species, a move which flummoxed Bitan.

“How did they come to this strange decision, and relying on what misinformation?” Bitan fumed. “After all – crocodiles are grown for the leather industry around the world. Only here did some bleeding hearts influence them to make the wrong decision.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said in response to a query that they are working in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority to locate an alternative location for the adult crocodiles.

Meanwhile, recent hatchlings have been moved to a crocodile farm in the southern Arava desert, and steps have been taken to prevent the escape of any more crocodiles, including building better fencing.

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  • Nile crocodiles were once native to Israel near Caesaria, I feel that some effort should be made to restore them to at least one location where they were wiped out. Salt was a preservative in ancient times. Being the salt of the earth was an honorable direction if not an obligation. Is there no room for them because they are dangerous? Afraid? Get past your fears as Australia, Florida and other places have. Please Israel, with all of your developing priorities, begin to restore your natural heritage for all to enjoy! Bravo with your Arabian Orynx program!!!

  • FORTUNE

    THERE ARE LOTS OF PLACES ONE COULD SEND THEM TO.

    HOWEVER, WHY NOT HAVE A HUNTING SEASON FOR A FEW DAYS EACH YEAR. HUNTERS WILL NEED TO GET A PERMIT AND THIS WAY IT WILL BE AN INCOME GENERATOR.

    THIS IS THE WAY MANY COUNTRIES CONTROL DEER AND BLACK BEAR POPULATIONS AROUND THE WORLD.

  • Carl

    Send both the crocs and the tree huggers to France. They will fit right in.

  • Simone Miller

    Wonder if they like arab food.

  • charlie johnson

    Hey,I have another idea. Get the USA liberals to open abortion clinics on the crock farm. They love to murder babies.

  • A.Franklin

    London,UK John LOBB Mens’ croc. shoes $14,000

    Croc.skin good for Israeli exports.

  • Make concessions for peace!! Give them portions of Israel and autonomy!!! Maybe you’ll get a Nobel Prize!! Aria Deri can engineer it!!

  • Brandon

    Nile crocodiles (at least, it is assumed to have been Nile crocodiles) were once present in the Jordan River valley naturally (in historic times). They were eradicated by humans hundreds of years ago, but technically speaking the river is still natural crocodile habitat (no natural processes pushed them out, only humans).

  • Leon

    Crocs do not make good pets, send them to gaza

  • Max Cohen

    To Mr. Gadi Bitan: You might be able to change the ruling of the Environment Ministry by convincing them that you are running a non-profit business. They hate profiting more than crocodiles.

  • Moshe Sapper

    Perhaps some enterprising person will design and fit a croc muzzle while this situation is resolved.

  • Bernard

    Once upon a time only terrorists crossed the border in the Jordan Valley . Now we have crocodiles doing it ! Is there such a big difference ? Only the number of legs !

  • Robert Davis

    Israeis seemincapable of taking a UNILATERAL decision in any field. Even to kill a few crodiles they need to be allowed by a dozen administrations which never give them for meaningless reasons!

  • judorebbe

    The same Israeli leaders who set free jihadi murderers as a “goodwill gesture” to our peace partners, should set these crocs free, too … right smack in the middle of downtown Ramallah.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    “and God sent an eleventh plague” Maybe peace can come to the region when the Israelis and Arabs work together to rid themselves of Crocks.

  • Markus

    Lol a good fence is a wonderful idea!!!

  • charlie johnson

    As I see it.You have too many crocks and too many liberals.Try feeding the liberals to the crocks .The lesser of two evils approach is a good compromise.

  • Yale

    Are these crocs native to the Jordan Valley?

    The claim that they were a gift in the 1990s suggests not. If not, how can they possibly be considered an endangered species?

  • Hasi

    Are they kosher? I bet they make for a great croc Burger!

    • Lauren Goldman

      Sorry, they’re treyf.

    • Zvi Avidror

      In fact croc. tails are a delicatie and so is smoked croc. meat.
      Zvi Avidror
      East Africa Safarist

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