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Wildlife of Africa: Nile Crocodile
The Nile crocodile is Africa’s largest reptile and it is certainly up near the top in being one of the most dangerous animals on the continent. A large Nile crocodile may reach close 20’ in length and as they grow beyond 12 feet in length, their girth and massive body proportions greatly increase with the additional growth. Truly magnificent creatures, Nile crocodiles will prey on virtually any animal that ventures near the water. A large crocodile may lay submerged in a mud hole, which during dry season may be the only standing water within miles and thus animals of all types come to the mud hole to drink. Most animals approach the mud hole with great caution but their life sustaining need to drink finally gets the best of them and they approach the water’s edge. It is at this time when a massive lunge from the water allows the croc to grab an animal anywhere from the size of a mongoose to the size of a large antelope or even a giraffe. Many guests on a Kenya safari have seen the migration of many thousands of wildebeest and zebra as they cross the Mara River, and the unfortunate ones that fall prey to the congregating Nile crocs that fill their bellies with fresh meat.
Also in Africa, many people are killed annually by Nile crocodiles as people venture to the water to bathe, collect water and fish. Large crocodiles are certainly apex predators but they do begin life in small vulnerable size. Upon hatching, baby Nile crocs are fed upon by birds, Nile monitor lizards, snakes, mongoose and a plethora of other animals taking advantage of a food source. Catching baby crocs is risky as female crocodilians protect their young and thus being on the lookout for mama croc is always necessary in ones safety. One night in Gabon, West Africa, we caught dwarf crocodiles as well as part of the research being done by Mitch Eaton. Our greatest fear that night was the bad-tempered forest elephants that did not take kindly to strangers!
Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history, photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern W aildlife.