Crocodile Specialist Group event puts UP's Exotic Leather Research Centre on the map

Posted on July 26, 2016

'A huge success for the University of Pretoria and the Faculty of Veterinary Science and judged as one of the best working meetings of the Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) held thus far'. This is how the Director of the Faculty of Veterinary Science's Exotic Leather Research Centre (ELRC), Prof Gerry Swan described the 24th working meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) CSG that was held in Skukuza at the end of May 2016.

More than 340 delegates from 42 countries attended this prestigious event, which returned to South Africa after 43 years – the 2nd working meeting having been held at Ndumu Game Reserve in 1973. The theme for this year's event was 'Crocodiles, communities and livelihoods', which highlighted the complex relationship between Africa's top aquatic predator, the Nile crocodile, and the communities who often share scarce aquatic resources with these ancient reptiles.

Besides being a scientific congress, this event also presented for the first time a trade expo where producers and various service providers to the exotic leather trade profiled products and services. According to Prof Swan, this Expo and exhibition, to which the ELRC contributed extensively, was of an exceptional standard. More than 21 businesses took the opportunity to profile their products and services to international delegates. On the last day of the congress, which was dedicated to 'trade', the Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, delivered the keynote address.

This event also provided the platform for the launch of Exotic Leather South Africa as one of the cluster initiatives funded by the National Department of Trade and Industry, as well as for the first annual general meeting of the newly formed South African Crocodile Industry Association. Furthermore, the Exotic Leather Research Centre was able to present itself to a wide international audience.

In his keynote address, Minister Rob Davies expressed his appreciation of the theme 'Crocodiles, communities and livelihoods' and its importance in creating economic opportunities based on conservation. 'I commend the work done by the University of Pretoria, Exotic Leather South Africa and the South African Crocodile Industry Association in cooperating to exhibit the capacity of the South African leather value chain at this event,' said the Minister.

Among other board members and manufacturers present, Minister Davies specifically acknowledged the efforts and work of Prof Gerry Swan and Dr Jan Myburgh, a member of the ELRC and Chair in Crocodile Health and Welfare at the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

According to Prof Swan the ELRC, together with its partners, received exceptional international acclaim and exposure during this event. 'The Exotic Leather Cluster model – together with the institutional partnership with the University of Pretoria and its mission and goals, as well as the research already performed – was acknowledged as a unique and exemplary model for the crocodile industry globally. This event has placed the ELRC on the world stage,' he said.


Note: R95 500 was raised at the charity auction at this event and has been earmarked to further assist crocodile scientists in addressing the Oiphant's project in the Kruger National Park.


- Author Chris van Blerk

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