Padenga to cull 42 000 crocodiles

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CROCODILE farming company Padenga expects to cull a targeted 42 000 Nile crocodile skins in the year to June 2013, amid indications that the skin size will be up 8% on last year.

Chief executive Gary Sharp told the company’s annual general meeting recently the group was positive it would achieve all its targets for the year. Culling of crocodiles born in December 2009 and December 2010  was scheduled to start in March 2013.

Sharp said there were indications of strong demand for premium grade skins.

The group had just hatched its first crocodiles from eggs collected during September and October 2012 and had enough eggs to meet its production targets.

All rearing pens had been resurfaced and the company was doing likewise to hatching pen floors at Kariba and Nyanyana. Sharp said work was also carried out on the boilers and water reticulation system to increase heat retention and lower energy costs.

The group was constructing 13 new pens at Nyanyana, which would be completed during the current financial year, while new walk-in freezers had also been put in on the farm for feed storage.

At the Lone Star Alligator Farm in the US, work to double capacity at the facility had recently been completed.

Culling was underway, with 6 951 alligators having been harvested out of the planned 8 143. A first grade of 84% was achieved on farm, although this was subsequently upgraded to 90% at the tannery.

Alligator skins are in high demand from luxury goods producers, especially those who makewatch straps for premium brands such as Patek Phillipe.

A single alligator skin is 25cm wide and can make 8 straps, commanding prices of about US$1 500 per strap. Niloticus (crocodile) skins have a 39cm width on average.

Padenga is forecasting a 20% rise in profits in 2013. Last year, the group reported a bottom-line of US$3, 7 million from turnover of US$19 million achieved from the sale of 63 000 skins.

Expenses in the period were 8% below budget because generally the first half is a cost accumulation period.

Padenga currently supplies two of the five top-tier crocodilian leather tanneries worldwide. The company was the only Nile crocodile skin producer.

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