I knew the animal to be dead, and yet every instinct screamed in protest as I stepped closer. Complete silence; the crocodile unmoving. I risked a poke, ready to spring back should said beast be bluffing. Nothing. The reptilian skin hard and cold to the touch. Truly dead.
I stopped to take in the strangeness of the situation. One dead crocodile, attached to one dead elephant.
Closer inspection told the story of how the pair came to this unlikely end. The elephant had died of natural causes, right on the edge of an Okavango waterway in Botswana. The crocodile had been one of many that slunk from the cool waters to take advantage of this biblical feast.
But crocodiles are not built for elephant eating. Nile crocodiles may have one of the most powerful bites on the planet, and jaws almost impossible to escape, but their teeth are built for biting and holding rather than cutting. In order to tear their prey into bite-size chunks, crocodiles will sometimes “death roll”, holding on to a piece of meat and twisting until it breaks loose. In this case, however, the elephant’s tough skin proved to be too much, and tightened around the crocodile’s snout.
It seems that this unfortunate croc was not an ambi-turner, and could not free itself. The blocking of its nostrils alone would not have been lethal as it should have been able to breath through its mouth? So the case has been left open, and the record will state only ‘death by elephant’.
In Africa, there is never, ever, a time when you can say you’ve seen it all!
- Subscribe to our newsletter.