Saturday, 20 September 2014

Crocodiles fighting.

You are probably familiar with the term "crocodile tears". Check out the guy on the right.

During the civil war in Mozambique Dr Cobus Raath and myself spent some five years of our free time trying to restore the Maputo Zoo and keep the animals alive. A lot of the animals had died of malnutrition or had ended up over cooking fires by the time we intervened. The crocodiles, however, were breeding like rabbits. Procuring enough food for them was becoming a problem and we were running out of space, resulting in more and more serious fights for dominance.

We eventually managed to release some of the mature animals back into the wild in South Africa, but this was a story on its own - refer back to the blog post "The Maputo Crocodiles", dated 15/07/2013.

Up to then, the big males had been tearing into each other on a regular basis.

It was not uncommon to see some of them them covered in blood:

Most of the time treatment was not required, but now and again we had no choice but to step in with a little TLC. Considering what the business ends of these monsters look like, it was never a task to be taken lightly.

In those early days we were young an rather inexperienced, The dart had to be extremely sharp, and the pressure in the delivery device had to be adequate. If not, the dart with the tranquiliser would merely bounce back from the thick skin, revving up the crock and making it "the moer in".

Retrieving the dart was dicey, requiring a very flight-footed approach.

The good doctor (now professor) Raath was not even wearing running shoes, but he was clearly ready to take off.

Yeah, man, such was the frivolcy of youth, and steep was the learning curve...

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