Across Continents

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Back on dry land

Back on dry land from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Simple enough to find crocodiles in captivity. Local zoo. Even a couple of farms where they breed the predators. But a bit too touristy for my liking. Wanted to see them in the wild. After all, that’d be where I’d be camping. Reckon if you know how to find them, you’ll learn how to avoid them. It’s a theory.

Rowan, my very experienced guide with an intimate knowledge of the river, had spotted a croc basking on the bank in the late afternoon sun as we’d headed upstream. But, spooked by the boat’s engine, it’d disappeared before I’d chance to get it on camera.

Returning downstream in the dark, it’d been much easier to hunt down the predators. Emerging to feed. Kneeling in the bow of our metal boat – an inflatable probably not a good idea – I’d a powerful torch to scan the water’s edge. Looking for the very distinctive, unmistakable, red reflective glow of their eyes.

Along a three mile stretch of river found eight sets of eyes. Got within feet of one. Small. Maybe a metre long. Close in to the bank. Alas, its shadowy silhouette far too dark to capture on camera. Scared? Adrenalin flowing certainly. Excited. Very aware these are cunning, crafty creatures. Probably why they’ve been around for so long. To be treated with respect. Fall into the water and you risk serious injury, even death.

If I was a bit nervous it was back at the slipway. For someone has to jump into the water to pull the boat up. And that’d be me. Rowan at the helm. Very careful to scan around with the torch. Looking for red eyes. Water may be shallow but crocs don’t exactly have a deep draft. And they’d know it’d be a place where people inevitably dump old bait into the water. Tempting morsels.

[Author’s note: This was no amateurish river trip. Rather, Ken went with an experienced local guide. And a thanks to Jon for sending me an article about how to try and fend off crocodiles if you do inadvertently fall into the water. Others had suggested I try local nightclubs..]

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