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What Is Killing South African Crocs?

Mass deaths of South Africa's Nile crocodiles puzzle biologists

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WRESTLING FOR HEALTH

Ecotoxicologist Henk Bouwman of North-West University, Potchefstroom (South Africa) straddles a live croc while taking samples from the animal for testing. His team looked for DDT, dioxins and a suite of other toxic chemicals that they thought could be the culprit.....[ More ]

KILLER'S CALLING CARD?

The sick and the dead crocodiles have hardened yellow fat deposits, indicating a possible stress response to a toxic substance. Fish in the river showed the same, a condition called pansteatitis.....[ More ]

ON-SITE POSTMORTEM

Researchers and park rangers flew into a gorge along the Letaba River in Kruger National Park in July 2008 to dissect a dead Nile crocodile.....[ More ]

CROCODILE CREMATORIUM

Rangers burn crocodile carcasses in funeral pyres like this one in 2008. By November last year, 170 crocodiles had been found dead.....[ More ]

BODY RETRIEVAL

Rangers from Kruger National Park remove as many croc carcasses as possible, sometimes flying the bodies out of range of other crocodiles that might cannibalize their fellows and thus potentially expose themselves to deadly toxins.....[ More ]

BRINGING OUT THE DEAD

This year, researchers and park staff found 23 Nile crocodiles dead of the mysterious ailment in the Olifants River by August 7. Reports came in at the end of the month of two more dead in the nearby Sabie River, another Kruger National Park river, which flows into Mozambique.....[ More ]

FIRST WAVE?

The Letaba River was one of the sites of crocodile deaths in 2008, and to try to find the killer, researchers rushed to the scene to collect, remove and dissect carcasses, which were found washed ashore or simply floating.....[ More ]

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