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Remains of South African hunter found in crocodiles, DNA testing shows

Anti-poaching NGO says Scott Van Zyl was killed by a Nile crocodile on the banks of the Limpopo river in Zimbabwe

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 24 April 2017 16:32 BST
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Nile Crocodiles are known for lying in wait for their prey
Nile Crocodiles are known for lying in wait for their prey (AFP/Getty Images)

DNA tests on the carcass of three crocodiles shot dead in Zimbabwe have confirmed they ate a missing South African hunter.

Scott Van Zyl disappeared during a hunting safari near the banks of the Limpopo river last week and is now believed to have been killed by the crocodiles.

Sakkie Louwrens, the director of South African anti-poaching NGO Heritage Protection Group, said Mr Van Zyl had gone on a hunting trip on the Zimbabwean-South African border with a local tracker and a pack of dogs but the pair had separated when they went in different directions to search for crocodiles.

The alarm was raised when the dogs returned to their camp without him, the BBC reported.

Mr Van Zyl’s footprints were subsequently traced back to the river bank where his discarded rucksack was found.

The Professional Hunters' Association of South Africa told The Independent the remains of Mr Van Zyl were found in two of the three crocodiles shot and traces of a material similar to that of the CAT books he was wearing where found in the third.

He was said to be an experienced hunter and had taken foreign clients on hunting trips.

Mr Louwrens said: "Permission was given for three Nile crocodiles in the area to be shot, and one of them contained Mr Van Zyl's remains.

"Subsequent DNA tests have proved the remains to be those of Mr Van Zyl."

The death of Mr Van Zyl, who was married with two children, is the fourth fatal attack by a crocodile so far this year.

Nile crocodiles are renowned for their long powerful jaws from which few animals are able to escape – not even large animals like buffalo and wildebeest.

They tend to lurk almost totally submerged in rivers and lakes while they wait for prey to appear and then pounce out of the water to drag it under.

The species is considered the most dangerous type of crocodile and is common over much of Africa, where they are responsible for several hundred human deaths every year.

Last year it was revealed that they had appeared in Florida despite not being indigenous to the area.

A hatchling was discovered in Miami in 2009 and two of the beasts were subsequently found elsewhere in the state.

No one knows exactly how they ended up in the US but experts say it is probable they were smuggled into the country illegally and subsequently either escaped or were set free.

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