Hezron Awiti: Owner Of Mamba Village, The Largest Crocodile Farm in Africa

About 8-9 km from Mombasa city center, located in Nyali, and occupying 17 acres lies the largest crocodile farm in Africa.

Mamba Crocodile Farm popularly known as Mamba Village is owned by former Nyali Member of Parliament, Hezron Awiti. The expansive farm was opened five decades ago. 

According to the investor, the farm is worth more than Ksh250 million.

Here’s the story of the crocodile farm in Africa as told by WoK.

How Awiti purchased and developed the farm

In 1995, Mr. Awiti bought the farm from a foreigner who used it mainly as a tourist site. 

Initially the farm used to be a quarry and a dumpsite before it was converted into a conservation area for crocodiles. The legislator then switched to commercial farming after he learnt that crocodile skins were a lucrative business in overseas markets.

“While on trips abroad, I came across items such as handbags, shoes, belts and watch straps made from crocodile skin which only the well-off people can afford to buy,” said Awiti.

Today, Mr. Awiti is one of the big players in Africa who feeds the international luxury brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Paladino and Chanel with crocodile skins to make fashion accessories for the rich.

He exports the skins to markets such as Japan, Israel and South Africa. 

A crocodile skin Birkin handbag could cost anything from Ksh3 million to Ksh30 million. The farm slaughters between 1,000 and 1,800 crocodiles a year. 

A tour of Mamba Crocodile Farm

The Crocodile farm features an all-inclusive tour as well as presentations on the life cycle and behaviour of crocodiles. An adult crocodile can weigh up to 800 kilograms and grow five metres long.

The most famous crocodile here is a croc named ‘Big Daddy’. It was brought to Mamba Crocodile Farm in 1986 after killing five people in River Tana.

The farm has more than 10,000 crocodiles including the younger ones aged one year to the oldest crocodile ‘Big Daddy’. The farm has 21 ponds with the largest ones having the capacity to house more than 1,000 crocodiles.

Apart from these attractions, the farm also houses a Snake Park, Museum, Fish Farm and Aquarium. Along with this, it also houses a botanical garden and a horse and camel riding area.

The best time to visit is during feeding time, when all crocodiles can be seen clearly and some even leap from the water into the air to snatch meat dangling.

Take a bite of Crocodile Meat

Locals and foreigners usually visit the farm to view the crocodiles. They can also enjoy a meal of the reptiles.

Crocodile meat tastes like fish or pork and it is even crispier according to online reviews. 

A quarter a kilo of crocodile meat costs Ksh1,000 at the Mamba Restaurant as per their 2017 rates, while two pieces of mishkaki with accompaniments costs Ksh500.

You can also buy crocodile meat to prepare at home at the farm. A kilo of fresh crock meat ranges between Ksh4,000 and Ksh5,000 at the restaurant.

Crocodile Farm business

Crocodile farming is very lucrative but comes with a catch. It is very capital intensive especially when setting it up. The returns are not immediate and only comes after the crocs have matured and can be harvested.

Before setting up a crocodile farm one is also required to apply and be issued with a licence by Kenya Wildlife Services.

A crocodile aged between four to five years is sold at more than Ksh20,000 while those aged above 10 years fetch between Ksh40,000 and Ksh50,000 depending on the length and health of the skin.

“We have supplied hatchlings to many farms in the region and beyond. So we do not sell eggs despite them being as tasty as chicken eggs,” says Mr. Awiti. 

The female crocodiles at the farm lay between seven and 77 eggs in a season. The farm breeds crocodiles using an incubator where they put eggs collected to hatch.