An environmental impact assessment of commercial captive breeding of crocodiles
The increasing deterioration of the natural environment as a direct result of human activities calls for drastic measures to preserve it for the sake of the well being of current and future generations of mankind. These measures include proper management and utilization of the natural resources available to meet the needs of mankind. Crocodiles are one such resource whose breeding is beneficial to mankind but can cause harm to the environment, hence the need for an environmental impact assessment prior to commencing any such venture. An environmental impact assessment (E.I.A.) is aimed at determining all the potential environmental impacts of a new project. It also provides mitigation measures for any adverse effects. The intended crocodile farming in this study is located at Sagana in Mwea Division, Kirinyaga district, Central province of the Republic of Kenya. The selection of this location is meant to diversify crocodile farming from the coastal region of the country where most crocodile farms are located. This study takes into account all the different aspects of crocodile farming, associated amenities, legal framework and the trickle down effects. Main aspects of crocodile farming include egg collection from the wild and incubation of the same on site, capture of adult breeders from the wild, construction of crocodile pens and ponds, stores for the crocodile feeds, abattoirs and sheds for curing the skins before export as there are no tanneries in Kenya. Others are drilling of a borehole, construction of staff quarters and landscaping. Heavy machinery and trucks will be used in the initial establishment of the crocodile farm to transport the relevant items to and from the farm. There will be spillage of oils and greases, removal of natural vegetation to pave way for construction, disposal of rejects from the abattoirs, spillage of chemicals used in the farm operations, disruption of the natural balance of wild crocodile populations due to capture and release, and disturbance of the cultural and socio-economic setup within the local communities. All this will change the immediate environment. A large number of interviewed respondents regarding establishment of the farm welcomed the idea, but most don't understand how it will affect them or their immediate environment. The legal framework, especially NEMA regulations, provided a basis on which this study findings and recommendations are based. A laboratory analysis of the chemicals to be used in the crocodile farm, water samples from the adjacent river Sagana and quantity analysis of ground water resources was done and the results are conducive for - iv a crocodile farm in this particular location. Environmental degradation as a direct result of establishment of this farm will involve cutting down of vegetation to pave way for construction, disruption of percolation rates, decrease in the quantities of groundwater in the reservoirs, pollution of the soil, disintegration of the social fabric and a possible increase in STD's and HIV/AIDS. Other potentially negative impacts are a disruption of the natural balance of wild crocodile populations and accidents occasioned by crocodile capture. These are fully addressed in the formulated EMP. Further, there are legal restrictions which if fully adhered to will mitigate these impacts. Positive impacts are the majority. These include earning of foreign exchange, creation of employment, tourism and education, increase in production of crocodile meat and reduction of human-crocodile conflicts. Other positive impacts include the spin off effects that will make the local economy more vibrant through secondary activities such as construction of residential houses, shops and markets, artisan's sheds, and hotels. Findings from this study indicate that commercial captive breeding of crocodiles at this particular location is environmentally feasible and sustainable as the negative impacts are short term and reversible while the positive impacts are numerous. This is however achievable only if the recommendations of . this study are fully adhered to and all the legal requirements are observed. This environmental impact assessment on crocodile farming has provided useful knowledge and insight into environmental concerns associated with crocodile farming. This is an important input towards an academic understanding of the process of environmental impact assessment.