Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Croc Parc, Etang Salé

Last Sunday we visited Croc Parc, a crocodile park in Etang Salé, in the south-west of Reunion.


We were there for a picnic in the grounds (which cover 5 hectares), but we made the most of the occasion to see the crocodiles too, as we hadn't been back since the park opened a few years ago. We found the residents had really grown in size! 

Crocodiles don't need to paddle when
swimming, they use their tails instead

The crocodiles in the park are the species Crocodylus Niloticus (Nile crocodiles) and come from Madagascar.

in the wild this species of crocodile can kill a man

Nile crocodiles can be found in most of Sub-saharan Africa as well as Madagascar.

crocodiles have strong jaws to hang onto their prey

There are currently about 160 crocodiles in the park.

Crocodiles spend the night in the water

The Egyptians used to worship the crocodile/Nile god Sobek, as those who worked or travelled on the Nile hoped that if they prayed to Sobek he would protect them from being attacked by crocodiles.

impressive foot!

Today crocodiles are protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora aka the Washington Convention).

walking the plank

They can grow up to 6 metres in length and weigh nearly a tonne. As reptiles they are cold-blooded and need the sun to warm their body up to their activity temperature (30-33°C).

crocodiles like to bask in the sun 

The sex of Nile crocodile hatchlings is determined not by genetics, but by the average temperature during the middle third of their incubation period. If the temperature inside the nest is below 31.7°C, or above 34.5°C, the offspring will be female. Males can only be born if the temperature is within that five-degree range. Generally 16 to 80 eggs are laid.

two's company

Their bodies are covered in thick bony scales

Crocodiles have a more triangular shaped head than alligators and caimans, and when their mouth is shut all their teeth can be seen (as opposed to those of the upper jaw for alligators and caimans).

eyes, ears and nostrils are on the top of the head

Crocodile tails are flattened for sculling

In the park at 4pm on Wednesdays and Sundays they are fed.

In the wild their diet would be fish, antelope, zebra, cattle and warthogs, but in the park it's chicken carcasses!

In the main crocodile enclosure was a tree noticeable as it has many nests: those of yellow Village Weaver birds.

Aside from the crocodiles there are other things to see in the park - we came across this panther chameleon in the wild, known locally as an "endormi" ('sleepy') as it moves very slowly (though it can be incredibly fast when catching a prey).

Endormi (furcifer pardalis)

the endormi safely back in its natural habitat

The park is also a botanical garden of sorts, with different plants and trees labelled.

Ophiopogon intermedius, a member of the lily family

There are is also a play area for children, eating places, some farm animals on display (ponies, guinea pigs, farm birds etc), and a bandstand area.

jazz band 

park bench

sunset on the way home

Useful links:
  • Croc parc website (in French)
  • Parc Botanique et Zoologique Tsimbazaza (PBZT, Tsimbazaza Botanical Park and Zoo) is in Antananarivo, Madagascar. I first visited the crocodiles here in 1991.
  • La Vanille - formerly called La Vanille Crocodile Park and now just called La Vanille, this zoo and reserve of 6ha is in southern Mauritius, near Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac. As much as crocodile farm as a park it houses 2000 crocodiles but also has an insectarium and 1000 giant tortoises.

La Vanille crocodile park, 2001

Turtles at La Vanille crocodile park, 2001

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