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Archive for August 3rd, 2017

Crocodiles!

Those jaws can exert a whopping 3,700 pounds per square inch. Yours can only do 150 pounds per square inch!

One of the curiosities of Malawi held my attention. Crocodiles! They were a very real danger in the past and continue to attack people. One man at the river said that only yesterday he saw twenty-one crocodiles.

Crossing the Shire River to Mozambique.

The Shire River, heavily populated with crocodiles, separates Mozambique from Malawi.

Crossing the river from Malawi to Mozambique seems natural to these folks, but I’m not sure I would have the courage. That canoe looks just a bit fragile. In fact, I believe I saw a crocodile at the Museum of Natural History about the same size as that canoe! Nope. I’m not getting in.

Canoes take customers back and forth across the river.

Let me share this article from The World by Ann M Simmons called, Rivers of Fear Run Through Malawi as Crocodiles Stage a Big Comeback. The article was written in 2002, but I think the problems remain.
May 31, 2002|ANN M. SIMMONS | TIMES STAFF WRITER
NSANJE DISTRICT, Malawi — Dipping his arms into the murky river, Collins Skiper expected to grasp a healthy bunch of water lilies. Instead, he found both hands in the clutches of a crocodile’s ravenous jaws.

The predator dragged Skiper out of his shallow dug-out canoe and into the water. Memories of what followed that day in early January are sketchy. But Skiper does recall the terror, the pain and the violent struggle as six fellow fishermen clobbered the crocodile with their paddles.

Miraculously, they managed to free Skiper from the reptile’s grip and drag him to safety–his hands ripped and bloody.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Skiper, 21, whose wounds took almost a month to heal. “I shiver now each time I see a crocodile.”

The young fisherman was lucky. Few victims of the numerous crocodile attacks in this southern region of Malawi survive to tell their tale–much less with all their limbs intact.

Crocodiles “are a big problem,” said Dennis Chokolo, chief of the village where Skiper lives along the Shire River, an outlet of Lake Malawi. “Nobody can go and even take a bath in the river; not even the animals can go near. When they go to the river to drink, they are killed.”

Nile crocodiles are terrorizing communities along the Shire. Two people in Skiper’s village have been killed since January, and nearby settlements have experienced at least a dozen attacks since the beginning of the year. Depletion of the crocodiles’ natural prey, primarily caused by overfishing, has led to the surge in attacks.

Humans who fish, wash in and draw water from the crocodile- infested river, along with livestock grazing along its shoreline, are easy prey, wildlife specialists said. Some local fishermen have been literally plucked out of their makeshift canoes, many of which have less than six inches of clearance from the water.

Paul Taylor, chairman of the Blantyre branch of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi, said attacks are “more a problem of the human population than the crocodile population. As the [human] population gets bigger, more and more people are moving into areas where the crocodiles exist. So the chances of a crocodile encounter are larger.”

Figures on crocodile attacks here are unavailable. But some hunters believe that at least one Malawian is killed or maimed by a crocodile every day and that as many as two victims fall prey daily during the warm season from October to April.

“Most of the cases are not reported; people just go missing,” said Wisdom Mwanza, director of planning and development for the District Assembly in Chikwawa, one of the areas hit hardest by crocodile attacks.
Report on the mission to Malawi continues next time . . .

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