Nile Crocodile Hunting In Zimbabwe
Crocodile hunting in Zimbabwe is an experience that should not be missed. Not only is the Nile crocodile a wily character, he is also one of the biggest of his species to be found not only in Africa, but in the world.
About The Nile Crocodile
We introduce the Nile crocodile, or crocodylus niloticus (niloticus meaning “from the Nile River”).
The crocodile is a large reptilian animal and one of Africa’s apex predators. It is the most common crocodile species and can be found throughout Africa.
Crocodile Fact Sheet
|Common Name:||Nile crocodile|
|Genus Species:||Crocodylus niloticus|
|Habitat:||Freshwater rivers, or waterholes, wetland areas|
|Lifespan:||35 to 75 years|
|Size:||1.5m to 7m (4.9 to 23 ft)|
|Weight:||18 to 1,200kg (40 to 2,600 lb)|
|Color:||Light tan or olive brown|
|IUCN Status:||Least Concern|
A survivor in the truest sense, crocodiles have been around for 200 million years. They have outlived the dinosaurs by millions of years.
They have remained almost unchanged for millennia and are perfectly adapted for their chosen environment.
Those beady eyes and toothy grin come with a well deserved, and nasty reputation. Showing no fear, these animals are aggressive, cunning creatures with excellent senses of sight and hearing.
As an apex predator, they are at the top of their food chain, which includes human beings. Not even the Hippopotamus is safe!
Like all of their species, the Nile Crocodile is an excellent swimmer. They can reach speeds of between 24-30kph (15-18mph), and even faster in short bursts.
A large, muscular tail propels their bodies through the water. They steer using their hind legs.
Never think that you can out-swim a crocodile!
Nile Crocodiles are one of the biggest of their species. Only the Saltwater Crocodile is bigger.
Males can reach between 11.5 and 16.4 feet snout to tail. Weights can vary between 500 – 1650 pounds.
They start off small, with babies measuring about a foot in length and weighing less than a pound. These beasts spend almost the rest of their lives growing.
They tend to have a higher life expectancy than many others of their species. A Nile Crocodile in the wild is thought to live between 70-100 years.
The Nile Crocodile has an incredibly effective immune system. Fighting is common between their own species, however, they can recover from very serious physical injuries with little more than rest.
Being nocturnal hunters, crocs have excellent night vision. In addition, they can see all around due to the position of their eyes on top of their heads.
Each eye can track a different target.
A protective membrane protects their eyes underwater but limits their eyesight while submerged.
They also has the ability to retract their eyes into their sockets. This protects them from physical injury.
Some people swear by the intelligence of crocodiles. One thing that most people agree on is that they are quick learners.
Simple routines are rapidly grasped, such as when the man with the bucket has food and when he does not.
It has been noted that crocodiles in the wild have learned to listen for the alarm calls of certain bird species. This helps notify them of nearby danger.
All species of this reptile are ambush predators. They remain still and concealed for long periods of time, then strike with lightning speed and force.
These beasts are also skilled at scavenging. They may prefer their prey alive, but from time to time have been observed stealing food from land predators such as the lion, leopard, and hyena.
Not much is known about their sleeping habits in general. But, being most active at night, crocodiles have been observed to enter a ‘sleep state’ during the day for up to 17 hours.
Being cold-blooded they require external heat to help regulate their internal body temperature. They can spend long periods of time basking in the sun on riverbanks or the shore.
What Do Crocodiles Eat?
The Nile Crocodile diet consists mainly of fish, but they will attack, catch and consume almost any unwary animal that crosses its path.
These animals can include small hippos, zebras, buffalo, antelope, and wildebeest. The larger prey is generally caught at waterholes when they are distracted while drinking.
A crocodile can eat large amounts of food very quickly. They do so by ripping their food apart and swallowing large chunks.
No part of a kill is left uneaten. Feathers, beaks, hair, hooves and horns are all consumed.
Surprisingly their teeth serve little function during eating. They are used primarily to gain a good grip on their prey’s body.
In a single meal, they can eat up to half its own weight in meat. Digestion is slow, but up to 80% is converted into new tissue.
Crocodiles have very efficient metabolisms. They can go without food for very long periods of time.
They do not hibernate, but have the ability to slow their metabolisms down.
During lean times they survive off their own body tissues. In the wild these carnivores generally eat a few times a month or if an opportunity presents itself.
Crocodiles range throughout Zimbabwe. However, the Nile Crocodile is the only species found in the country.
Be prepared to encounter them practically anywhere there are bodies of water. These include marshland, rivers, reservoirs, dams, or lakes that also support suitable prey.
Kariba Dam, being the largest body of water in Zimbabwe, is heavily populated. The Zambezi River in the north and the Limpopo River in the south also support large populations.
Like all of their species, the Nile Crocodile prefers to live at or near sources of water. Their preference is freshwater, but they can tolerate salty water, such as the Nile River Delta.
Their favorite habitat is anywhere with a water source, fresh or salty. Streams, rivers, lakes, dams, marshes and swamps will typically have a sizeable population.
They prefer large open spaces – making Lake Kariba an ideal destination for crocodile hunting in Africa.
Alligators vs Crocodiles
It is fairly easy to determine the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. Even from a distance you will be able to discern which species you are looking at.
The differences between the species are:
Shape Of Snout
Alligators have broader, shorter, U-shaped snouts, while crocodile snouts are longer, more slender, and taper to a V-shaped point.
When the alligator closes his mouth no teeth are visible. This is because the upper jaw is wider than their lower jaw. Therefore on closing their mouth the upper jaw encases the teeth, hiding them.
However, a crocodile has the opposite look. Their upper and lower jaws are approximately the same size.
Therefore when they shut their mouths their upper and lower teeth interlock. Most times the fourth tooth on both sides of the lower jaw are visible over the upper lip when the mouth is closed.
Alligators are much darker in color than a crocodile when tend to be a lighter tan or olive-brown.
Crocodiles are very large reptiles and grow larger than alligators on average.
Alligators can grow to 3 to 4.5 meters, weighing an average of 230kg. Crocodiles on the other hand can grow up to 5.5 meters in length, reaching almost 1 ton in weight.
Crocodile Hunting In Zimbabwe
If you are booking a crocodile hunt you can look forward to an excursion to beautiful Lake Kariba – Africa’s largest man-made lake.
Geographically, crocodiles can be found in the Americas, Africa, the Indo-Pacific, and Australia. Due to national laws and international treaties hunting a crocodile in either Africa or Australia is a hunter’s best option.
Be aware that they are intelligent animals with excellent senses of sight, smell, and hearing.
They are also alert creatures that are wary of any possible danger. This makes hunting these reptiles a challenging undertaking.
Patience, a very accurate weapon and a professional hunting guide are essential to the success of any crocodile hunt.
In southern Africa, hunting of these beasts is best attempted during the hotter months of the year. These are typically between the months of September and April.
Kariba is also the destination for hunting hippo. The lake abounds with hippopotamus and you are sure to find the perfect specimen.
The best choice of weapon.
Most crocodile hunts are done using a scoped rifle. Power and accuracy are a must.
These hunters are wary and can disappear into the safety of nearby water very quickly. This can mean the loss of a trophy.
The power of your chosen weapon is essential as the scales and bone of a large croc are formidable barriers.
A scoped rifle, good quality soft-point ammunition and at least a .30 caliber is generally recommended.
Accuracy is a must as the first shot needs to be either disabling or instantly fatal.
The brain and spinal cord represent very small targets. A shot to the golf-ball-sized brain is the only way to guarantee fatality.
Shots to the lungs or spinal cord are disabling shots. Lung shots force crocs to return to land to prevent drowning.
Hunting crocodile in Zimbabwe can only be done in partnership with a professional hunter (PH).
In many cases, professional hunters will use local tribes people. Their excellent knowledge of the local environment is invaluable.
Where a big crocodile lives and its daily habits, such as basking, will be known by most professional hunters.
Baiting is the tried and tested method used in most hunts. It is the best way to lure him out from the safety of water onto land where it is much more vulnerable.
This species will aggressively defend a kill, and thus unlikely to abandon any bait. The kill shot can be delivered from either the recommended approach, a blind, or by stalking.
The use of a blind, usually constructed about 80 yards from the bait, is almost always successful. Stalking should only be used by the most experienced hunters.
As mentioned above, crocodiles have excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing and take note of birds alarm calls. Therefore, stalking will always prove to be a difficult challenge.
When stalking, your aim should be to get within 50 – 200 yards of your trophy. The closer you are able to get the better.
Can You Eat Crocodile?
The simple answer is yes.
In fact, crocodile meat is considered clean and green. It contributes much less to carbon dioxide and methane emissions than beef.
The meat is consumed in countries such as Australia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Thailand, China, and Cuba. It is considered an exotic dish in many western nations.
Some indigenous tribes in Africa also eat croc meat, but generally, it is considered unpleasant in many parts of the continent.
The Nile Crocodile is a common man-eater. Because of this many indigenous peoples in Africa feel that eating its meat is akin to ‘eating your neighbor’.
Nile Crocodile Trophies
Available Hunting Species
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to hunt crocodiles?
You are able to hunt crocodile legally in Zimbabwe with the right permits and with a licensed professional hunter. Most crocodile hunts take place at Lake Kariba where the Nile crocodile is found in abundance.
Why are crocodiles being hunted?
There are a variety of reasons why crocodiles are hunted. Their skin is used commercially for handbags, belts, and shoes and their meat is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. Sport hunting is another reason and some crocodiles are shot if they are proving to be a menace to the area and becoming a danger to human habitation.
Can you kill a crocodile?
Yes, you can kill a crocodile if the shot placement is correct. The scales and hide of the crocodile are very thick but there are certain areas of the body that are still vulnerable to an accurate shot from a high powered rifle.
Do crocodiles hunt at night?
Crocodiles are mostly nocturnal hunters with very good night vision. Their eyes are specially adapted with highly sensitive light receptors and use these to take advantage of the poor nocturnal vision of their prey.
How do Nile crocodiles hunt?
The Nile crocodile generally hunts in and around waterways. Its favorite position is to attack from the water taking its prey by surprise. They lie in wait taking advantage of animals crossing waterways or coming to drink, killing their prey by dragging it under the water.
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