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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mysterious Crocodile deaths - Oliphants River

Scientists are puzzled by mysterious mass deaths of crocodiles along the Oliphants River in South Africa- home of the densest population of Nile crocodiles in Africa. They were first noticed late in May and to date at least 30 crocodiles have been found dead and exhibiting similar symptoms of a distinctive yellow-orange hardened fat in their tails.

Tissue samples have been sent to the University of Pretoria's Onderstepoort for further analysis and veterinary surgeons, scientists, researchers, rangers and managers met in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park on Tuesday, June 3rd to discuss the discovery. Kruger National Park's Head of Department for Scientific Services, Danie Pienaar, said that they do not know the cause yet but it is believed at this stage that the yellow-orange fat is a condition known as Pansteatitis which is usually associated with the consumption of rotten or rancid fish.

Pansteatitis, also called steatitis or yellow fat disease is a nutritionally mediated condition usually associated with the feeding of certain types of fish oil or unsaturated fatty acids of fish origin in a diet poor in vitamin E. It occurs regularly in mink, cats, pigs and poultry, all of which are fed on high fish diets. While no dead fish or other animals were found in the Oliphants River, the dead crocodiles contained yellow-orange hardened fat in their tails — usually a sign of eating rotten fish.

Pienaar said the Olifants River was the most polluted river in the park and the system had experienced further strain from the Massingir Dam that has pushed back into the Olifants Gorge, causing sediments to be deposited.

Visitors to the Kruger National Park need not worry about their own health as water utilized from the Olifants River is exhaustively monitored before declared fit for human consumption.

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Blogger Philippa @ Oak Grove Farm said...

- The dam, the pollution, the money, the mining, the politics and corruption - a great recipe for disaster on all levels...

As you can see from this archived post, on one of my blogs,, I have been worried about this particular river for quite some time.

Is there anything I can do to be of assistance?

Philippa Castle

December 10, 2008 at 4:27 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

The assertion that the water from the Oliphants River is safe for human consumption seems questionable when the cause of this disease-rotting fish? pollution causing rotting fish? or some other pathogen has not been identified. The exhaustive testing might then be questionable.

January 21, 2009 at 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Keith Fraser said...

Considering that crocodiles are almost bulletproof as far as not being affected by disease and drought, highlights the fact that what is in the water, must have an effect on people (if not short term, long term)

January 8, 2010 at 9:03 AM  

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