Crocodiles originated from large, dinosaur-like ancestors 200 million years ago. Find out which species are man-eating.
Two hundred million years ago, the crocodiles have roamed the waters of the earth. They are large reptiles that would have been very efficient predators of other likewise large prey in the sea and near the edge of the rivers and lakes. Despite those long years, crocodiles have remained almost the same in their fearsome appearance.
This fearsome appearance and apparently gluttonous appetite were the reasons why in the modern days, the crocodiles are treated with great contempt. While crocodiles live in various places as their natural habitat: the rivers, estuaries and even the seas, they are being killed due to their monstrous appearance especially with these animals’ double edged teeth. Once a prey is bitten, it is almost impossible to escape its grasp.
Skull of the ancestor of the crocodile (Sarcosuchus imperator) in relation to the skull of a modern crocodile (Image Source).
Humans become crocodile victims as they are not choosy with their prey. Its keen eyes that pierce through murky waters make it an effective predator to the unwilling victim along the edge of rivers or lakes. Its prey is proportionate to its size; bigger crocodiles attack big prey while smaller ones content themselves with smaller animals. Almost always, children are the unwitting victims of crocodile attack, because their size approximate the usual monkey or small pig.
Not all crocodiles, however, are man-eaters. In fact, there are only several species that attack humans. Among those preying on humans are the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), and the nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). They even feed on their own kind, a phenomenon called cannibalism. The others either feed exclusively on fish, crustaceans, and even insects.
Distribution of Man-Eating Crocodiles
The saltwater crocodiles is a widely distributed reptile. It can be found in India, northern Australia, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, the Kai Islands, the Aru Islands, the Maluku Islands, Timor, throughout Southeast Asia specifically in the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia. They may, however, be seen in unlikely places because of these animals’ tendency to travel very long distances at sea. They have been reported in places like New Caledonia, Iwo Jima, Fiji and even in the very cold Sea of Japan.
The nile crocodile, on the other hand, can be found mainly in the Nile delta, Zarqa River, Lake Moeris, Senegal River, Lake Chad, Wadai and the Sudan to the Cunene and the Okavango delta, Madagascar, Zanzibar and the Comoros.
A saltwater crocodile attacking a man on boat (Image Source).
A nile crocodile bit off a veterinarian's arm. It was successfully reattached after a 6-7 hour operation (Source of Image and Story).
Since the man-eating crocodiles are unwelcome in man-inhabited areas because of its fearsome appearance and behavior, they are hunted in and killed in areas where humans conduct their economic activities like rivers and lakes. Much of these species populations were reduced to small patches. In the Philippines for example, only pockets of saltwater crocodile population in the wild are known to exist. In some places like Indochina, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, the wild populations are possibly extinct.
The nile crocodile lives in close proximity with human population and are good candidates for hunting for their skins. Hunting for the crocodile skin trade became much more common in the 1970s that caused a great decline of the nile crocodile’s population in the wild.
Anonymous, 2006. Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus): world’s largest reptile. Retrieved on June 5, 2010 at http://www.australianfauna.com/saltwatercrocodile.php.
Wikipedia, 2010. Nile crocodile. Retrieved on June 5, 2010 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_crocodile.
Wikipedia, 2010. Saltwater crocodile. Retrieved on June 5, 2010 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_Crocodile.