May 2000: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 3


Cont’d from page 2

Crocodilians are well adapted as predators. When in the water, they swim casually using a gentle “s” motion of their tail to propel them. They stay almost completely submerged with only nostrils and eyes above the water, looking like a small log. They may smell prey on shore from a great distance and swim closer, with a final lunge that may carry the croc several times its own length up onto the beach. If it gets a hold of any part of the animal, it will win. It will pull the victim into the water where it drowns. If it doesn’t get a hold, it may knock the animal over with several blows of its head. In addition, crocs will sneak up on a wading bird and as it takes off, the croc can leap out of the water almost vertically. And if large game isn’t available, the croc will use its tail to sweep schools of fish toward its mouth and gobble up as many as possible.
As to diet, one book said adults will eat “anything they want.” They regularly take down mammals that come to drink at the water’s edge, like gazelle, zebras and wildebeest. They can crush the strong bony shells of turtles. They may try to take a hippo or elephant calf but the mother will be protective and have been known to crush crocs.

The Nile crocodile has a reputation as the number one killer of beast and humans on the African continent. A crocodile wouldn’t go out of his way to find a human victim but they will take anything presented to them. A horrible incident from World War II happened off the coast of Burma. A thousand Japanese soldiers, fleeing the allied advance, tried to cross a mangrove swamp at night. British troops reported the horrifying sounds, and at dawn only about 20 were found alive. The crocs were simply following their instincts and taking advantage of an easy meal.

Had I known all this, I might not have been so blasé in my encounter with the alligator in Florida. My sister and I were canoeing and we knew that alligators were present. The canoe rental place had basically said not to worry, just keep paddling. We heard a huge sound and both of us saw the alligator at the same time. Fortunately it was at least 50 feet from us, on shore, but looking our way.

Everything stopped, including my heart. It was a typical American alligator, about 8 or 9 feet long, and I felt incredibly small and insignificant. I said Bismillah and started to breath again and we kept paddling. When we came back the alligator was gone.

This was a great gift. The opportunity to see one of God’s amazing creatures in its natural habitat. I’m thankful that I don’t live where I have to wash my clothes in the same river where crocodiles lie in wait, but I’m also thankful for the opportunity to see one and know a little bit of that fear and awe.

Reptiles are awesome creatures, nearly 6000 different species, so many variations. They walk on their bellies, they walk on two legs, they walk on four. They are part of God’s intricate interwoven plan on this earth. We like them or we fear them, but we need to appreciate them. For their part, they just want to be left alone, in their submission to God. Unlike dogs and cats, they don’t want to bond with us or serve us; they just want to be allowed to do their own thing. A naturalist, Henry Beston, wrote in The Outermost House: “For the animal shall not be measured by man….They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” How true, for God says in 6:38:

All the creatures on earth and all the birds that fly with wings are communities like you. We did not leave anything out of this book. To their Lord, all these creatures will be summoned.

Lydia Kelley