Having spent 7 years living in close proximity and on the banks of the Zambezi River, I know only too well of the dangers of Crocodiles. We were always aware of their presence, even more so when picnicking on Chundu Island. You have to of course be careful in any wilderness environment, keep your wits about you and follow the basic “laws of the Jungle” If you are an independent traveller and have arrived in the bush and you don’t know these laws, nips down to the local bar (there is always a local bar) and find a grizzled bushman/guide/professional hunter (there is always one of these as well) A couple of rounds of drinks should secure you some tall tales and enough knowledge to give you the basics. The trouble is however that, even with all this knowledge you could find yourself in a tricky and possibly deadly situation. A mate and very experienced river hand found himself in one of these situations just recently and even with all his experience, knowledge, fitness and fighting spirit, he didn’t survive.
Crocodiles are prehistoric, cunning and ruthless killers. They generally do not attack humans but given the chance will have a go at just about anything. The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling is testament to this. Crocodiles are also very territorial, especially during mating season. In some cases Crocodiles have become habituated through being fed by humans and they will not be scared of so easily.
So what can you do if you are attacked by this prehistoric reptile. Well simple, there are 3 things:
1. You do nothing. Dead
2. You thrash around. Minimal success
3. You fight back strategically. Large success
Crocodiles attack in two basic ways:
1. A defensive attack when defending territory and young, usually consists of a quick bite and then a retreat. This is also your cue to retreat quickly and to a safe distance. You should then seek immediate medical assistance.
2. A predatory attack is much more dangerous because the Crocodile actually wants to eat you and will be more persistent. Most of us have seen the classic Masaai Mara footage of Crocodiles attacking the crossing wildebeest and zebra. It is violent and clinical but not always successful.
So what is your Strategy
You want to attack back in a co-ordinated and deliberate manner:
1. Attack the eyes with whatever you have. An oar, a stick, a knife, a mobile phone, a pen. If you don’t have any tools use your hand and fingers. Your thumb is your strongest digit, so ram it into the eye.
2. Attack the nostrils and ears. They will be less sensitive than the eyes but it will cause some discomfort and the Crocodile might be encouraged to release you.
3. Punch and hit the Crocodile on the snout. Many people have been saved in this manner.
4. If you have an arm or a leg inside the Crocodiles mouth, attack the palatal valve. This is the flap of skin behind the Crocodiles tongue and prevents water from flowing into the throat and lungs and causing drowing. Push your limb down the gullet and keep pushing with all your might. Damage and attack to this valve will more than likely encourage the Crocodile to let you go
None of these methods are an absolute guarantee but they could mean the difference between, well you know ….
RIP Hendri – Hendri’s last Blog entry