Crocs in Cairo: 'Man-eater' Nile crocodiles terrorising residents

Crocs in Cairo: 'Man-eater' Nile crocodiles terrorising residents
In-depth: Residents of Cairo's Mostorod suburb were horrified to discover that their newest neighbour was a Nile crocodile that could grow to five metres long.
3 min read
04 February, 2016
The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous of all reptile species [AFP]

An African Nile crocodile basking in suburbia is not, it turns out, everyone's idea of a good neighbour.

But a video doing the rounds on Egyptian social media is showing just that, with one of the world's second-largest reptiles chilling out on the banks of a Nile tributary in the Cairo suburb of Mostorod.

The surprising footage has given rise to rumours of other crocodiles lurking in the waterways of Cairo riverside neighbourhoods, such as Faisal and al-Haram. Egypt's environment minister has even been forced to assure residents that Nile crocodiles do not have a record of attacking homes.

It should probably be noted, however, that hundreds of people worldwide are killed by "man-eating" Nile crocodiles each year.

The appearance of the Mostorod crocodile was not the first such sighting. The ministry of the environment previously captured a similar crocodile in the area.

Meanwhile, upstream in the village of Dandil in the Beni Suef governorate, workers at a water treatment facility came across a 1.5 metre crocodile in December.

Nile crocodiles

Ezzat Awad, an oceanologist and former director of Egypt's fisheries authority told The New Arab that up to 10,000 African Nile crocodiles, the only crocodile species in Egypt, live in Lake Nasser in the south of the country.

The Nile crocodile is the second-largest species of crocodile in the world, with adults averaging between 2.5 and 5 metres in length, and weighing between 70 and 700kg.

It is known to be very aggressive animal, in addition to being an opportunistic apex predator capable of taking any animal within its reach.

Out of range

Khaled Fahmy, Egypt's environment minister, blamed irresponsible pet-owners for the appearance of the large reptiles in Nile tributaries outside their normal habitat.

The New Arab cannot be held responsible
for content posted to third-party websites

"Some people buy crocodiles from the Friday or Tuesday markets and raise them in their bathtubs, but when the crocodiles grow the owners release them into the tributaries," said Fahmy.

However, environmental experts believe that crocodiles might have crossed the Aswan High Dam as Nile water levels were being topped up, and slowly made their way north.

A third explanation is that the crocodiles could have escaped from illegal crocodile farms in Aswan, where they are raised for their profitable leather.

Living in de-Nile

One Egyptian lawyer - who believes he has cracked the case of the mysterious reptiles - has filed an official complaint against the Muslim Brotherhood, who he accuses of releasing crocodiles into Nile tributaries to terrorise Egyptians and spread chaos.

Abdel Majid Jaber, the founder of the Front for the Protection of Egypt, has filed an official complaint with state prosecutors in which he claimed that Mohammed Badie, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, was responsible for the crocodiles captured by the ministry of environment.

Meanwhile, expert Ezzat Awad believes that Egypt's Nile crocodiles remain "an untapped resource" that should be utilised by selling their skins, meat and glands, which are used in pharmaceutical production.

And Aswan resident Ahmad Awad told The New Arab that some locals had already taken to raising crocodiles for their skin, which is sold to foreign tourists at high prices.

"Sometimes a crocodile escapes from the farms and continues its life in the Nile," said Awad.