What was at first considered a crazy idea soon turned into a reality as the late Corky Kelly constructed Riverbend Crocodile Farm in Southbroom on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The farm was officially opened on the 24th November 1981 and having celebrated its 30th Birthday in 2011 the farm has grown and has now hosted more than 2 million visitors establishing itself as one of KwaZulu Natal’s major tourist attractions.
While the initial nile crocodiles were obtained from Zimbabwe additional nile crocodiles from Namibia, South Africa and now home bred crocodiles form the nucleus of one of the most successful crocodile breeding basks in South Africa. Riverbend Crocodile Farm owned by the Kelly family has been managed by Howard Kelly the eldest son of the late Corky Kelly since 1989
Having qualified as a Pharmacist in 1995 Howard Kelly was thrust into the family business by the unexpected death of his father. Having completed his military service and after working part time as a Pharmacist Howard has been managing Riverbend Crocodile Farm since 1989. With his pharmaceutical background and his interest in animal biology he has over the last 30 years developed an intimate knowledge of crocodiles – their biology, breeding cycle and growth rates.
Riverbend Crocodile Farm was the second commercial crocodile farm to be established in South Africa and as a result of 30 years of commercial breeding experience Howard now acts as a consultant both in South Africa and abroad in the field of commercial crocodile breeding. He has been involved in crocodile projects in China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Namibia, South Africa and Spain.
First invited to serve as a member of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) in 1990, Howard as a founder member of the South African Crocodile Farmer’s Association was the designated crocodile specialist nominated to serve on the South African Bureau of Standards(SABS) in 2008. Together with other specialists he assisted with the compilation of SANS 631, the SABS “Standards for the keeping of crocodiles in captivity” a document which acts as a blue print for and regulates the keeping of crocodiles in South Africa.
The completion of an MBA degree out of the Business School at the University of Cape Town in 1995 has also equipped him with the necessary business acumen to complete successful business plans and project models for prospective clients across the globe. Howard now offers the full array of services specializing in the establishment of both tourism and commercial breeding business units. These services include the completion of feasibility studies (both economic and social), the preparation of a comprehensive business plans, the application to government departments for the permit to hold crocodiles and the stocking and commissioning of such projects.