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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 18:34 GMT
Uganda culls man-eating crocs
More than 40 people have been killed in recent months
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) says it has begun an operation to cull predatory crocodiles in Lake Victoria that have attacked and killed more than 40 people in the past seven months.

Any crocodile sighted waiting is regarded a man eater. It is shot dead

Arthur Mugisha
The authority said an armed patrol was hunting down the crocodiles, which waited for their victims in shallow waters before dragging them further offshore.

Four of the predators have been killed since the cull began last week.

Crocodile attacks are fairly common in East Africa, with women fetching water and fishermen particularly at risk.

Only a few days ago, the body of a young British woman, Amy Nicholls, bearing what was thought to be a crocodile bite mark was recovered from Lake Challa in Kenya.

Increasing contact

The crocodile attacks are thought to be caused by increasing human contact with the reptiles, says Moses Mapesi of the state-run UWA.

Older crocodiles that have been slowed by age are also thought to be attacking humans, which are slower and easier to catch than fish, Mr Mapesi said.

The UWA aims to help villagers co-exist with wild animals by promoting tourism and the sale of hides and eggs as potential income.

But it has come under fire from residents who accuse it of putting animal safety above that of people.

Residents say the crocodile attacks happened when settlements encroached deeper into areas populated by the giant reptiles.

"The government should look into providing water points and designated fishing sites so that people do not interfere with the crocodile areas," said the UWA's Arthur Mugisha.

About 100 crocodiles are estimated to inhabit Uganda's portion of Lake Victoria, Africa's biggest fresh water lake, which Kenya and Tanzania also share.

See also:

14 Aug 01 | Americas
Battle to save starving crocodiles
07 Feb 01 | Africa
Malawi curbs crocodile menace
19 Dec 00 | Africa
Gambia's sacred crocodile pool
05 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam flood victims face crocs threat
25 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Snap! It's the conjoined crocodiles
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