Back in 1976, while living at 231A Langton Road in Montclair, Durban, I acquired a baby crocodile, organised by my good buddy Clive Deacon. It apparently came from the Tugela river and was held briefly by folks on the Bluff. I applied for a permit for him and the Natal Parks Board granted one – no idea why!
We built an enclosure for Gabriel in the bottom of the garden where he thrived, feeding on fish and loads of toads that we collected on the roads on rainy nights. He grew rapidly and reached a length of about 1.5 m in no time. Rumour has it that a few neighbourhood cats went missing.
As Gabriel started outgrowing his enclosure there were a few escapes and I would often get home and see the neighbourhood wives with brooms, cornering him and waiting for me to come come. Then one of my brother’s friend stuck his hand in the enclosure and ended up in Addington hospital for stitches. There was alcohol involved. The press got hold of the story and Gabriel had to go, ending up at the St. Lucia Crocodile Farm. A legend in our own back garden. The photograph of me watering Gabriel was taken around 1979.