Feast for the crocodile

Last Sunday Lina, my fiance Freddy and I went to Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa’s fourth largest national park, located just over 2 hours north west of Johannesburg. We left already at 4 o’clock in the morning and had an absolutely wonderful day in the park.

Sunrise in Pilanesberg

Sunrise in Pilanesberg

There will definitely be lot of photos from that day, but I wanted  to start with one of the cooler things we saw. Anyone who has been on safari in Africa know that some sightings are more fun than others. I appreciate them all, but hippos for example – super cool and one of Africa’s most dangerous animals. But they never do anything, so you have to wait for a long time for one of them to yawn from their hiding spot in the water. Same thing with crocodiles, they mostly park on land and don’t move an inch.

Very still crocodile

Very still crocodile

But in early summer the sharptooth catfish is spawning and there are quite a lot of them in the different dams in Pilanesberg. It’s a pretty violent process where the lady catfish is chased and there are plenty of water being splashed around. This takes place right next to the shore, which means that they can be easily caught by a variety of predators from land, but of course also by predators in the water.

Sharptooth catfish spawning

Sharptooth catfish spawning

And at one of the dams we got to see how a crocodile slipped into the water from the bank on the other side and slowly but very decidedly swam over to our side. And when he reached the other side it was not long until he had caught his first fish. A loud splash and a clear oooohhh from everyone who was there in the hide and got to see this.

Some rest after a meal

Some rest after a meal

After this, he pulled out a little from the shore and lay there, just waiting. All of us who stood there ready with our cameras, and especially those who missed the first attack (yes, that would be me), silently cheered Mr Crocodile on so that he would take up the hunt again. After a while he began to move toward the bank and also closer to us.

On the move

On the move

The path leading into the hide form a small bridge over the water and  we stood right there. Everywhere we could hear splashes and see fish move and we all stood there and trying to guess what the crocodile would do next. He slowly approached the entrance to the littleriver” that connects the two sides of the dam and he finally decided to go in. He positioned himself so that he blocked the entire watercourse and slowly and patiently began to bring the incredibly powerful tail towards his head to try and move the fish closer to his mouth.

Crocodile tail

Crocodile tail

Despite this very strategic technique he had no luck fishing and after maybe 10 minutes he gave up and moved out a little more towards open water. I think it was around this time we began to feel that perhaps it was time to give up and realise we were defeated – there would be no photos of crocodile vs. fish this time. We asked Freddy, who is not camera crazy as we are, to “count to 10, and then we’ll leave.” Had he actually counted, he would probably have reached 9 before the big splash

The moment of truth

The moment of truth

The cameras around us went crazy and I could not believe our luck to see and experience this. All the German tourists sounded very happy and we felt pretty pleased to have waited the whole thing out. Apparently we waited for 52 minutes, announced a very patient Freddy.

Crocodile & catfish

Crocodile & catfish

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