Van Son is known as the “crocodile king” in Khanh Hoa
Province on the central coast, and the title seems well
suited. The 45-year-old is the first breeder of crocodiles
in Khanh Hoa and now cares for some 1,000 crocodiles
in a newly built farm owned by Khanh Viet Corp., or
Van Son looks at a crocodile
at the farm without fear.
farm is located in a valley in Khanh Phu Commune in
Khanh Vinh District, some 40km from Nha Trang, the capital
of Khanh Hoa.
the 1,000 crocodiles were raised at Xuan Son Farm in
Vinh Hiep Commune, some 20 kilometres from Khanh Phu.
in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, in 1980 Son began
to work as a policeman in the Central Highlands provinces
of Kon Tum and Gia Lai.
he moved to Nha Trang and worked for 18-4 Co., which
raised monkeys for export to the former Soviet Union.
In 1996, 18-4 was merged into Khatoco, and Son was sent
to Ho Chi Minh City to learn how to breed crocodiles.
to Nha Trang, Son got his nickname, being the only one
there who was able to approach the reptiles with their
thick, armour-like skin, long, tapering jaws and, most
significantly, sharp teeth.
says he loves raising crocodiles though it is very hard
and dangerous work. The man with the dark skin is now
managing Khatoco’s crocodile farm, which is surrounded
with steel trellis to keep the crocodiles from curious
people. The reptiles are raised in many 100-square-metre
says the mother crocodiles like to soak themselves in
the water at noon, while their youngsters prefer to
hide from the sunlight in the shade of the banana trees
next to the pools.
except the ones well-trained for circus acts, are usually
unfriendly to humans,” Son says.
I can go up to them closely as I have been raising them
for a long time,” he explains while opening the door
of a cage that is home to dozens of adult crocodiles.
of them are more than 15 years old, and each weighs
from 100 to 200 kilograms.
call the crocodiles, Son purses his lips to impressively
make the right sounds that signal the time for food.
the familiar whistling, the crocodiles raise their heads
on the water and then creep to the poolside to wait
for the food. They usually get dead chickens, ducks,
pigs and fish every second or third day.
also impresses visitors with his own method of helping
crocodile eggs. He puts the eggs into a nest with a
layer of straw on the bottom. The basket is placed under
a 65-watt bulb burning all day and all night.
Son turns the eggs to make sure that they warm up completely.
Son says he carefully pays attention when the crocodiles
hatch to help them, if necessary, emerge from the egg.
few minutes after their births, the crocodiles are washed
with water. Then they quickly learn how to creep by
says he plans for the farm to be the largest in the
central region with tens of thousands of crocodiles
that bring in much profit for Khatoco.
one-month-old crocodile is now priced at VND 1 million,
and crocodile meat costs VND 170,000 per kilogram. (16
/ 06 -SGT)