Incredible Photo Series of Crocodile Ambush


Mar 4 2016
 
 
It was drought conditions, and scorching, approximately 49 degrees Celsius! But that certainly didn’t stop Karen van Damme, keen photographer and party patiently scanning the water at Sweni Hide for the duration.  And this entire time, impalas sank shoulder deep into mud, surrounded by crocodiles. They were supposedly thirsty, and in need of a drink of water. And often the impalas would venture towards the crocodiles to inspect. But the crocodiles never attacked!
 
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Perhaps because crocodiles are ambush predators, or more commonly known as sit-and-wait predators. They capture their prey by stealth or by strategy. Rather than group endurance hunting like wild dogs or stalking like a lion, they can patiently watch and study their prey for hours, before a sudden outburst of movement to attack. 
 
Sweni, an L shaped hide is close to Satara Rest Camp and it is a regular sighting to see crocodiles basking in the sun upon the rocks and sand banks. Karen who is also a keen birder, frequents the hide and can spend hours their watching birds, although this particular day it was the crocodiles and impalas. While not as profoundly aquatic as the reedbucks, the impala have indicated an inclination for grasslands adjoining wetlands, and therefore are commonly recorded prey items for crocodiles. 
 
Karen says, “The younger crocodiles kept changing their position in the mud, and the impala kept avoiding them. The large crocodile as seen in this photo series also restrained from attack, even when there were large impalas right beside him. It seemed he waited for an inexperienced young impala to drink. And then he lurched. It took about an hour! And Karen had her Canon E0S400D ready!
 
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Since they feed by grabbing and holding onto their prey, they have evolved sharp teeth for piercing, and holding on to flesh. The teeth are not well-suited to tearing flesh off of large prey items. It is interesting that the muscles used to open the jaw of the crocodile are week, however the actual bite force is measured as one of the most powerful in the animal kingdom. Due to this immense bite force, and due to the properties of the teeth, it makes it difficult for its prey to escape. Also, unlike other predators, crocodiles do not have the ability to chew their food, and swallow large chunks at a time. 
 
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Karen says, “I felt extremely sad for the impala, and was amazed at the short memory they seemed to display. After repeated attempts by the crocodiles, they still perservered in going closer to the crocs to drink and examine. I was also amazed at the agility of the impala when the crocodiles attacked.”  Unfortunately though for this specific impala captured in the photos, it had no escape route. And again we see that the circle of life is pertinent to every living thing on earth. 
 
 

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