Crocodiles are ubiquitous and found virtually in all Zambian rivers be it small or large. It’s for this accident of nature that they are the number 1 threat to human life for people who live near rivers. It’s common to hear people calling on the Zambia Wildlife Authority to protect them from these reptiles. The largest African croc is the Nile crocodile measuring 3 metres. In Zambia it’s generally found in the Luangwa River.
After a proper meal of swallowed large chunks of prey the croc generally will stay for a long time without the need for food. It’s been observed that a croc can last even for six months without food. So it can lay low or float seemingly aimlessly on water with no show of agitation or imminent attack.
When in their natural environment crocs eat fish and enjoy feeding on large animals such as zebra, antelope, etc. In Kenya’s Masai Maala National Park the crocs may wait for the yearly migratory crossing of the wildebeest. Many antelopes, wildebeest and zebras die while crossing. A great harvest for the crocs!
And as they cross the river a lot more antelopes are caught by the ‘marauding’ crocs. They like to have fun too. Crocodiles are the most dangerous predators on water. Well, perhaps excluding the mighty chop from the hippo. A hippo can open their mouths large enough to chop a small boat or even swallow a man whole.
Crocs breed by laying eggs. One would have thought being large they would give birth to young ones. Two months after mating a female crocodile will look for suitable nest. It will lay between 25 to 80 eggs. The nest is usually a hole it digs in the dry sand on riverbanks, shoreline or dry riverbeds.
One male croc is capable of mating with ten female reptiles. After laying eggs the female crocodile is set for a long vigil. Only leaves the nest to take a quick dip in water to cool off. After three months incubation period the female crocodile digs up the eggs. It’s the high-pitched sound from the babies that alerts her.
After hatching the mother crocodile carefully picks up the 12-inch (30.5cm) long newly born crocodiles in her mouth and carry them to the water. The croc babies remain under their mother’s care for about two years…then watch out!
Zambia African Safari © ZAS 2004