Many think lions are at the top of the predator hierarchy… I don’t.
I think crocodiles hold that top spot.
Crocodiles are an ancient predator, we’re talking millions and millions of years unchanged. Most animals will avoid a large crocodile if they have the choice. Last week I watched a herd of about twenty elephants come to drink at a waterhole where two crocodiles were lying on the bank. The elephants, even the large-four-ton females, flailed their ears out at the sight of the crocodiles but did not even try to chase them or push them back into the water. The crocodiles were avoided by the whole herd and left to lie peacefully where they were at the start. On another occasion I watched a large elephant bull walk directly towards a very large crocodile that he hadn’t yet seen. When the elephant noticed the crocodile he stopped immediately, stuck out his ears in display, turned around and made his way back in the direction he came from. The crocodile barely moved an inch.
A few years ago a male lion was taken by a crocodile at a waterhole not far from camp. The lion and his brother had been sleeping close to the waterhole in the morning, and in the afternoon when the game dive vehicles returned, all they found was one brother calling mournfully, and tracks of where the second had gone for a drink and then been pulled in. His body – or at least what was left of it – floated to the surface a day or two later.
In the story I will tell today, however, the crocodile’s prey was far less impressive than a lion: it was an Egyptian goose. But what transpired was still pretty epic
At first the crocodile would pull off pieces of the Egyptian goose under the water and then surface, sticking its head out to ingest the piece. Crocodiles cannot feed under the surface because that would make them ingest too much water… so they lift their head out at an angle to swallow chunks of meat.
The crocodile made its way around the waterhole with its prized prey. At one stage it was behind bushes and we could only see through a small gap.
At first I couldn’t make out what bird the crocodile was eating… one of the guests even thought it was a fish eagle based on the colour. In this moment we could see that it was a goose.
Here we go, the first huge thrash the crocodile was trying to break off bigger pieces! It was a long build up. At this stage I had been watching for at least forty minutes.
Luckily the crocodile then started to move the bird away from the bushes into the open… I was now hooked and hoping to see another display like the one I had just seen!
Bang! There it was! The crocodile lifted itself out of the water and threw the bird into the air…
Encapsulated by an awesome display of water droplets, feathers, scales, and movement, the two-hour long wait paid off.
The crocodile continued to behave like this for another half an hour or so. It would move the goose around the water, nudging it with its nose or gripping it in its jaws. Every so often the crocodile would break off another piece. I have always enjoyed crocodiles, and this sighting left in me with a huge sense of awe for these incredible prehistoric beasts.
Incredible photos Bruce. Crocodiles are extremely dangerous. I think it is because they are in the water. We watched a croc “drown” an Impala. It had the animal by the back, and as the Impala tried to get away it swallowed more water and eventually died. You see many elephants with a piece of the trunk gone. Saw a video if a croc taking a waterbuck.
Wow! Awesome story and fantastic photos! Crocodiles are fearsome creatures for sure! Thanks for sharing, Bruce!
Bruce, Thanks for the photos of a crocodile in action. Great photography as well.
Nothing to say but WOW . . .
Great post Bruce. We once saw a croc at Camp Dam breaking off bits of an Nyala but it was nowhere close to being this impressive a display
Wow! Crocodiles are fearsome creatures and even more so when with prey. What an amazing experience, Bruce and incredible images!
Great shots … shows why patience and preparation can make an incredible series of shots … well done! VERY happy they don’t wander too far from the water!
Bruce, your picture Dsc 3664 is simply stunning! So much energy and brutal force summarised in a single picture with a million water droplets filling out the space, this is a masterpiece. Sad for the goose but this is the bush…
OMG- fabulous blog, but even more so, your photos of the action. What excitement- we can feel it in your images! Predators take many shapes and forms, but truly the crocodile is formidable as it lurks out of sight , waiting for a meal. No wonder big cats drink cautiously from the water’s edge, when the body of water is large enough to hide a croc!
Bruce i agree with you, crocodiles seem to me to be the scariest of all the animals we have seen. They are also sneaky, lying just at or under the surface. That must have been something to see. Hope you are well and also Robert. Victoria
Bruce – loves the photos, especially 7 & 8 – well done 🐊
Bruce your images are SO powerful and action packed! Outstanding coverage of crocodile violence. I can see why all others stay out of harm’s way!
Bruce, Thanks for the amazing shots! Incredible action sequence!