“Usually people inherit material objects. I get 65 crocodiles,” says Marelize Pienaar. The farm, and its 65 reptiles, came into her possession after she lost her father to cancer. A peculiar bestowal, but one that spoke to the unique bond shared between Pienaar and her late father.
The crocodile farm in Nelspruit is the manifestation of her father’s dream to educate people about these misunderstood animals, which have a sinister reputation. To Pienaar, they are sensitive giants. Having dropped out of her law degree during her second year to take care of the animals and her mother, she has no regrets about how her life is panning out.
“The crocodiles mean that I have a little piece of my father to go back to,” Pienaar says. “I always feel that he is with me when I’m there.” Since taking over the duty of caring for the animals, she has resumed her pursuit of law through UNISA. Pienaar is continuing her father’s legacy as a conservationist and animal right’s activist, promoting crocodiles in particular as creatures that are as worthy of love as any.