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The Lost Baby Crocodile

Posted by Jan on Mon May 28, 2018 in Ranger Diaries.

Tourists see a plethora of wildlife and water birds on the boat cruises offered by Pongola Game Reserve. The jetty is at the river mouth where we regularly clean and maintain the boats. It is also the hunting ground for the Nile Croc.

Even though the last recorded croc attack in the Pongola River was in 1964, we remain vigilant when wading in the murky water. Most of the Jozini crocs, even the big ones, are wary of humans since they were extensively hunted in the ‘20s. The crocs are not known to come too close to the jetty but in April it suddenly became a popular hang-out spot. We spotted giant 3 meter crocs and we saw evidence of frequent croc activity around the jetty and beach area.

In early April we noticed a single baby croc. Knowing that a mother will fiercely protect her babies we left it alone. Almost every time we went to the jetty the baby croc was there alone. We did spot a huge croc a couple of times but after a while it also moved away, leaving the youngster behind. There didn’t seem to be any other hatchlings.

Three weeks passed and we saw the baby croc again. This time I decided to catch it once we were certain the mother was absent. As small as it was it was surprisingly strong. I held it behind the head so that it wouldn’t bite me with its needle-sharp teeth. It sent out a loud squeaking noise to alarm the other crocs of danger. I was sure I heard a response back but no one came to its rescue. This little guy was probably separated from the group and seemingly forgotten.

Baby crocs are vulnerable at this stage and they have many predators. Usually only 1 out of a clutch will survive into adulthood. Not wanting to draw too much unwanted attention I released it back into the water.

It seems to be doing quite well despite having no protection from the mother, and we see it every time we are at the jetty. Hopefully it will continue to grow until it reaches an age where it will leave the jetty area and find another habitat to thrive!