Die for fashion: At the Nyanyana crocodile farm in Zimbabwe, the fearsome reptiles use their teeth to eat 100% vegetarian pellets that have nutrients added to make their skin softer and more supple – qualities favoured by the fashion industry. – Reuters
Crocodiles are fearsome predators renowned for their appetite for meat. But at Zimbabwe’s Nyanyana croc farm, the reptiles nibble lazily at vegetarian pellets – to make them more suitable for high fashion.
Besides being cheaper than meat, the diet of protein concentrate, minerals, vitamins, maize meal and water is said to enhance crocodile skin destined to become handbags or shoes on the catwalks of New York, Paris, London or Milan.
“We don’t feed them meat anymore,” said Oliver Kamundimu, financial director of farm owner Padenga Holdings. “It actually improves the quality because we now measure all the nutrients that we are putting in there, which the crocodile may not get from meat only.”
Four hundred kilometres northwest of the capital Harare, Nyanyana croc farm is home to 50,000 Nile crocodiles and is one of three Padenga farms around Kariba, Africa’s largest man-made lake.
The company has 164,000 crocodiles in all and started feeding pellets in 2006 at the height of an economic crisis in Zimbabwe that made meat scarce and very expensive.