It’s funny how life can bring unexpected connections sometimes. There I was, considering getting the box set of LAKE PLACID, and discovering that there was a fourth one out, LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Yeah, where have we heard that before?). I enjoyed the first movie, enjoyed the combination of dry wit, gruesome gore and Betty White swearing like a Marine. But I never got around to the sequels.
And then I read this little piece of real life horror, something that should perk the ears of some filmmaker out there.
There have been heavy rains of late in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, causing flooding which has killed at least ten people so far, including three children who died when their homes collapsed during heavy rain. Three more people are missing and hundreds have been left homeless, while several wildlife resorts have been devastated. The South African Air Force is being used to rescue people affected by the flooding in remote settlements, some of which are cut off. Flooding has also affected Kruger National Park and neighbouring Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.
But that’s not what this article is about. It’s about the Rakwena Crocodile Farm on the Limpopo River. It has a campsite, facilities for birdwatching and eco tours. And it has crocodiles.
15,000 of them.
Well, it had them.
On Sunday, January 20th, rains forced Johan Boshoff, the farm owner, to open the gates in advance of an anticipated storm surge that could have threatened the walls of his house, and release the crocodiles into the dense bush around the Limpopo. The farm bred the crocodiles for food (apparently it has a texture like scallops or lobster and tastes like chicken, if you can excuse the cliché), and their hides are used as leather for shoes, belts, rifle slings and handbags, which could be purchased at the farm, if you ever visit. Crocodile skin is considered one of the finest and best, being soft and durable, and i In many tribal societies, skin crocodile is used as a symbol of high status. But only the skin on the belly has these qualities; the back skin is covered in bones (called osteoderms) which deflects arrows, spears and even bullets.
“There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River,” Zane Langman, the son-in-law of Johan Boshoff, told the local Beeld newspaper. “Now there are a lot. We’ve been recapturing them as and when the local farmers phone us to tell us that there are crocodiles on their property.” The hunts are conducted mostly at night, apparently because crocodiles’ eyes shine red in the darkness. These are the crocodiles’ eyes which have a layer called tapetum behind their retina, containing crystals that reflect light and make possible the night vision. Not that it’s easy: their sizes vary but will reach lengths of 18 feet, they can swim just with the help of their powerful tail up to 25 miles per hour, and can stay underwater for up to three hours, and can also execute jumps of more than ten feet out of the water. Oh, and did I mention that their back skin can deflect bullets?
They’ve managed to kill or recapture “a few thousand” in the days since, but more than half remain on the loose. According to the BBC, one Limpopo family was rescued from their flooded home as “crocodiles were swimming around them.” One of the animals was reportedly sighted on a rugby field 75 miles away from the farm. Animal safety experts from the No Shit Sherlock Department warned people to stay indoors and stay away from the crocodiles. In truth, the crocodiles are unlikely to harm humans, but that shouldn’t stop a filmmaker from bending the truth.
So come on, Asylum, get someone with minimum reading skills to dictate this story out to the chimpanzees who work as your screenwriters! Just move the setting from South Africa to some small American town where the sheriff is a former 80’s action hero and the herpetologist is a former 80’s pop sensation, and there’s a school for topless camp counsellors and lesbian pole dance instructors…
Story courtesy of The Guardian