Pierce Kempkes: crocodile in the water

Huge crocodile caught on camera!

Incredible sighting of a croc catching an impala!

Eye witness account – Cat Carr

Subsequent to watching “The Last Feast of the Crocodiles”, all the students on the Tuli project looked at the Limpopo River flowing beside camp in a different light. Swimming beneath the murky brown waters these magnificent creatures were lurking, waiting on easy prey. Every day we wake to the stunning view of the river, hoping to catch a glimpse of eyes or a ripple in the water. Little did we know what the Limpopo had in store for us that day!

It was a relaxing Sunday in camp, our day off to catch up with data input and generally chill out after a busy week. Sitting reading by the pool, Kelsey suddenly shouted, “What was that?!” As everyone grabbed for their binoculars it soon became clear on the other bank of the Limpopo, 30 metres directly across from camp... massive crocodile. He was thrashing around in the water and on closer inspection we saw why- he had a baby impala clamped in his jaws. As we ran for our cameras the noise of the thrashing in the water continued. He rolled and surfaced several times and for a while it was hard to distinguish the croc from the brown waters and then all of a sudden he exploded onto the banks, tossing his prey up to get a better hold. The size of the croc was phenomenal. He was huge, just his head was supported on the grassy soil. Then his tail flicked up, we saw he must have been three metres at least in length. As we watched with bated breath the prey within this giant’s jaws was tossed down its throat within minutes. The excitement within camp was electric. We thought we may catch a glimpse of these reptiles; we didn’t think for one minute we would witness the consumption of a crocodile’s lunch. It was just amazing. An experience that will be re-lived for many years to come. The giant of the Limpopo River!

Eye-witness account – Katie Webster

Sundays are our day off here at Tuli, so this particular Sunday afternoon found us gathered under the shade of a Mashatu tree by the river. We were enjoying a leisurely read, and generally paying very little attention to anything (absolutely the ONLY time we ever do that!). Charlie had told us that there was a large crocodile that often sunned itself on the far bank of the river, so over the last few days we had been keeping an eye out for him just in case we caught a glimpse. Today was no exception, and it was Kelsey who spotted our croc first, just as he slipped off the bank and into the river. We all ran for our binos, hoping that we wouldn’t lose sight of him. Luckily there was no chance of that – he was easy to spot as he had started the rapid roll that crocs use to tear pieces off their prey, and the water was churning all around him. We could see that he had something in his jaws, but we weren’t able to make out exactly what it was. After a number of good spins the croc stopped, and we saw that he had somehow managed to catch a baby impala! Clearly the croc was having difficulty dealing with this large meal in the water, so he chose to haul himself partway up the riverbank. Because of this, we were able to perfectly witness this huge animal, of about 3.5m in length, as he proceeded to eat the entire impala WHOLE. From start to finish the process took only minutes, and when he was done our croc swam contentedly up the river.

It really was an absolutely incredible thing to watch, and I think we all have a little more respect for what lies in the river just at our camp’s front door! Given that our croc won’t be hungry for awhile, I guess we will have to watch for hippos next Sunday.