I am slightly fascinated by crocodiles.
Along my travels, I have been to a crocodile farm in Tunisia once, a long time ago. More recently, I have visited a crocodile breeding place in Australia, one in Egypt and another one in Cuba. I have tried crocodile meat both in Australia and Cuba, but no, I do not wear crocodile leather shoes nor would I buy my wife a handbag made of this material.
Since 1971, crocodiles are protected by being listed in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species). However, by 1986 they were moved to Appendix II, which means that products from farmed crocodiles can be exported.
On one of my trips to Egypt, I had the opportunity to see some mummified crocodiles of perhaps some 4,000 years of age. Crocs were considered deities in ancient Egypt. Sobek, the ancient Egyptian crocodile deity, translates as “He who causes to be fertile”.
Crocodiles are found in Australia, tropical Africa, Asia, and in parts of the Americas. The largest is the saltwater crocodile of southeastern Asia, with a length of up to 9 m (30 ft). While weighing up to a ton, they are capable of rapid movement. When crocodiles swim or float along the surface of the water, they expose only their eyes, nostrils, flat tail, and toes. Most crocodiles hunt at night and bask through the day. Broad-fronted crocodiles usually feed on animals that venture too near; while gharials, specialized narrow-snouted crocodilians, eat mostly fish. You may be surprised to learn that crocodiles chirp much like a bird.
Many people confuse alligators with crocs. Alligators are relatives of the crocodiles but have a broader snout and lack the side notch that exposes the long fourth tooth of the lower jaw. The female Alligator prepares a nest on the bank of a pond, lays dozens of eggs in it, and covers them with mud. The eggs are then incubated by the heat of the sun and will hatch in a couple of months. The baby alligators will call when hatched, and the mother alligator then carries them in her mouth to the pond. The male alligator is renowned for its intimidating bellow.
If you share my interest, you don’t have to travel the world to seek the crocodiles. Just come to Spain or to Cádiz, to be more precise, to the province of the same name, a province which is one of the eight comprising the splendid autonomous community of Andalucía. Hidden just ten minutes from Jerez de la Frontera, Kariba, the unique Granja de Cocodrilos (crocodile farm), is the biggest crocodile environment in the whole of Spain. More than 1,800 examples, from the ferocious hunters of almost 5 m in length to the tiniest, most harmless crocs, of less than 30 centimetres, are assembled at the Kariba farm which comes equiped with an artificial river.
The Kariba proprietor, José Ramón Conde, has bred animals all his life. He started with pigs, moved on to sheep and goats, and since 1989, he breeds crocodiles. He claims that his is the only such crocodile farm in the whole of Europe. José Ramón specializes in breeding the Egyptian crocodile species Crocodylus Niloticus. The farm sells live animals, sells crocodile meat to specialist restaurants as well as crocodile skin to the leather industry.
You can visit his farm on your own if you are over 12 years old. If younger, you need to be accompanied by an adult. After September 15th, the opening hours are daily 09h00 to 21h00. Admission is 6 € for adults and 4 € for children.