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Israel faces crocodile conundrum with stranded reptiles

AP  |  Petzael (West Bank) 

An Israeli appears to have bitten off more than he can with plans for a farm in a settlement.

Hundreds of crocodiles have been stranded at the farm in a remote spot in the left behind by a pair of failed business ventures.

The crocodiles were brought to the settlement of in the mid-1990s as a tourist attraction. Ensuing Israeli-Palestinian violence kept visitors away, prompting the crocodiles' purchase by Gadi Biton, who hoped to sell them for their skin.

But his venture flopped after passed a law in 2012 defining the as a protected animal, and banning raising the animals for sale as meat or merchandise. Multiple attempts to sell them abroad have failed.

"We found ourselves with hundreds of crocodiles in this farm that no one knows what to do with," said David Elhayani, of the Regional Council. A feeds the animals dead chickens once every eight days.

Dozens of the crocodiles lazed recently on the sun-baked shores of a lagoon on the property, their jaws ajar, revealing menacing teeth.

The animals have become a pain for the owner, the region and Dozens of crocodiles have escaped on two occasions, including once when 70 flew the coop only to be found after a three-day croc-hunt. The reptiles, which can live well into their 70s, are also reproducing. Their numbers are expected to grow to the thousands in the coming years.

"I don't want to think of what will happen if a manages to escape and reaches the Jordan River, and then we'll have an international incident," Elhayani said.

"Maybe then someone will wake up and find a quick solution to this problem."

Biton, who declined to speak to The Associated Press, has attempted to resettle the crocodiles in Cyprus, but numerous attempts to do so have failed because of opposition by residents there.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that administers civilian affairs in the West Bank, said it is working to find a "practical solution" to the crocodile conundrum. It accused the farm owner of a "lack of cooperation," without elaborating.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 12:00 IST