We decided to do a trip to Lake Manze, because as the Selous starts to dry out again between the short rains and the long rains, we start getting big herds of Nyassa Wildebeest and Plains Zebra heading to the lakes to quench their thirst. Wildebeest in general tend to stay within a distance of 15km from water, as they are water dependent antelope. So heading to Lake Manze, we were spoilt with not only large masses of hooves and legs as hundreds upon hundreds of wildebeest moved to the water, but also impala, zebra and giraffe.
Normally we are also rewarded with the large cats waiting at the Lakes, licking their lips and trying to decide which one to go for first, but we only got lucky at the end of our drive, when a young lioness made her presence known. This time however, the highlight didn’t come from the feline kind, instead, from the ancient dragons, which have ruled the waters from prehistoric times. For as we searched for the lions which frequent Lake Manze, I did a loop around some palms which surround some small channels from the lake itself, and there, feasting upon a wildebeest, were the spiralling bodies of the Nile crocodile. They were ripping chunks of meat and limbs from the now dead wildebeest, there must have been 20 or more, of these emotionless, ancient killing machines.
Nile crocodile feed predominantly on fish, which comprises 52% of their diet, but they are best known for catching the odd mammal that has come to drink, and often scavenge. By scavenging they play a very important role in cleaning up the rivers and streams – communally feeding on unsuspecting victims or carcasses found around the water regularly. They do also display cannibalistic tendencies, and thus assist with controlling their own numbers.
These prehistoric reptiles are built for their aquatic domain, having special gular flaps at the back of the mouth, which they close when catching fish or ambushing and drowning their prey. Their nictating membrane acts as a second eyelid, allowing them to see underwater, nostrils and eyes are also situated on top of the snout and head to allow them to just surface and reveal the smallest part of their body possible. The flattened, oar-like tail and webbed feet allow these creatures to drive themselves through the water with incredible speed, as their powerful downward biting jaws, armed with 62-64 teeth clamp shut onto their unsuspecting meal.
The equipment of the rivers, lakes and streams’ most formidable killing machine.