Aquatic Predators-Crocs-4

J. Moore (
Mon, 26 Jun 95 10:13:00 -0500

Lastly, Troy Kelley made this suggestion:
TK> These eggs would make a very good meal for early
TK> hominids and it would be an effective way to control the population of
TK> crocodiles as a whole.
[Now, since crocodiles undergo a lot of predation on eggs (and young as
well), yet didn't decline in numbers until massive habitat destruction
and hunting began a few hundred years ago, this doesn't make sense.]
Behavior and Environment: Mortality and Predators
Chapter by A.C. (Tony) Pooley (Consultant on Crocodile Farming,
Conservation, and Education, Scottburgh, South Africa) and
Charles A. Ross (Museum Specialist, Department of Vertebrate Zoology,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C., USA)

pg. 92:
During the first six months, and up to several years of life, hatchling
and juvenile mortality from predators is high. In fact several African
and Pacific crocodile management programs justify harvest of eggs and/or
juveniles as recruitment of this segment of the population into the
adult breeding population is so low. Some wildlife management
specialists estimate a death rate as high as 90 percent during the first
year of life. However, as a crocodile sucessfully runs the gamut of
early0life predators and reaches adulthood, the number of predators and
the causes of mortality diminish rapidly. An adult crocodile has little
to fear but its peers and humans.

pg. 95:
In Africa, the Nile Crocodile (*Crocodylus niloticus*) nest predators
have been described from various countries and habitats. These include
water and white-tailed mongooses, honey badgers or ratels, olive and
chamca baboons, otters, warthogs, bushpigs, and spotted hyenas. Avian
predators of nests include the Marabou Stork, which has learned to probe
through the sand with its stout bill to remove eggs from unattended
crocodile nests. However, the Nile or water monitor lizard is
undoubtedly the major predator of crocodile eggs throughout the African
continent and, over some nesting seasons, these lizards may be
responsible for stealing up to 50 percent or more of all eggs laid.
[Well, that's it. Okay, one more...what do you suppose would happen if
you had 1000 soldiers with rifles wading through a mangrove swamp --
ideal habitat for crocodiles.]
pg. 172:
Occasionally, circumstances permit occur that permit animals to display
grossly atypical behavior. One such instance occurred in Southeast Asia
during World War II -- a widely known and horrific incident involving
Indopacific Crocodiles and nearly one thousand Japanese soldiers trying
to make their escape through the mangrove swamp separating Ramree Island
from the coast of Burma, 30 kilometers (18 miles) away.
The naturalist Bruce Wright was a member of the British forces who had
trapped the Japanese on Ramree. He was sitting on a marine launch
grounded on the slimy mire of a channel running through the labyrinth
of the swamp and his account of the night of the 19 February 1945
outlines the grisly scene:
"That night was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [marine
launch] crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch
black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws
of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles
made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At
dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left...Of
about one thousand Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree,
only about twenty were found alive."
[Oh I know, it's "grossly atypical", because mostly these animals aren't
lucky enough to have so many meals walking around their habitat. But if
meals with rifles can't handle them, what about meals with little more
than brains half our size?]

Jim Moore (

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