Monday, September 08, 2008

How to hypnotise and/or kill a crocodile

From Maun, Goat's Bum of Africa, we travelled to the sublime luxury of Xakanaxa Camp in the Okavango Delta. REad on...........

Did you know, Legion of Fans (LOF) that if you roll a crocodile over on his back and rub his belly he’ll fall asleep in your arms?

Quite how you get the croc to roll over so you can begin hypnotising him is another matter, of course, but I’ve learned a lot about these cunning reptiles thanks to Popcorn.

Popcorn is an eight-year-old budding handbag who lives just below the “Beware of Crocodiles” sign by the dining deck at Xakanaxa Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve within the Okavango Delta.

Xakanaxa (pronounced ka-karnaka) is a little slice of paradise inside a big chunk of heaven. It’s amazing that the country that brought you Maun (see my last post, re ‘goat’s bum of the world’) can be host to the Moremi and the delta (or, as we say in Botswana, ‘the swamps’).

While watching Popcorn attempt to catch fish after breakfast this morning, the camp manager, Bob, explained other ways of dealing with troublesome crocodiles. If you can’t get them to roll over, and thus begin the process of hypnotisation (what a great word), simply reach a finger inside one of the nostrils at the tip of the snout and rip off the flap of skin that you’ll find within.
Blog post wolhuter as well.

The flaps act as valves which prevent water entering the reptile’s lungs (do they have lungs?) when they submerge themselves. According to Bob, if you rip out the valve the croc will fill with water and drown.

Of course, there is the other tried and true method of drowning a crocodile, by ramming your fist down his throat, but every young soldier in the Australian Army knows that one, as well as the importance of zig-zagging (a crocodile, a crusty old warrant officer once told me while I was on exercise in the Northern Territory, will easily outrun a man in a straight line, but zig-zagging confuses them. Just how far one is supposed to zig, before zagging, the warrant officer was unsure of).

Having the presence of mind to rip open a nose valve, zig-zag, or grab a crocodile’s epiglottis during an attack is, I suppose, akin to remembering to bite the shark on the nose when it takes hold of your leg.

Anyway, back to the Okavango Delta… errr, I mean swamps. Mrs Blog and I have been to other parts of Africa where the hype sometimes fails to live up to reality. There are so many “wildlife paradises”, and bits of “real Africa” (ie: bad roads, inflated prices and appalling toilets) that it’s hard to separate the pooh from the clay, if you know what I mean.

If two days of game driving and boating are anything to go by (sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t) then Moremi is, indeed, a very good place to see animals. On our first drive we spent about an hour with a leopard as he began his evening patrol and was harassed by two yappy little side-striped jackals. Next day we had two excellent sightings of a nice big pride of lions complete with several cubs of varying ages.

The landscape here is very agreeable. As well as the waterways and reedy islands there are open floodplains (good for spying animals at a distance) and impressively huge trees. You know you have been in Africa a long time (perhaps too long) when you get excited about trees, LOF, but I have seen Mopanes the size of oak trees! (Are you excited as I am? I doubt it).

What I like about Moremi is that the environment here is so different to other parts of Africa I’ve visited. It’s a bit of a cross between the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa, with patches of Hwange and Kruger thrown in. All that probably means nothing to most of you, but trust me – it’s different enough to warrant a look.

Xakanaxa Camp, itself, is lovely. It has big walk-in safari tents with an open air bathroom out back (I do love me a shower under the stars, with cool beer in hand). The accommodation and communal areas are rustic enough to please the European visitors (in search of zee elusive ‘real Africa’) and luxurious enough to melt the hearts of shallow Aussies (like Mrs Blog and me) who crave a bit of creature comfort after months living in a tent or on the roof of our Land Rover.

I would have liked to have tried out one of the self-drive camp sites in Moremi – there is one just down the road, also called Xakanaxa - but I have yet to meet anyone in Botswana who has been able to get a booking in a Moremi camp site. According to the locals Botswana Wildlife (the local national parks authority) continually maintains all the camp sites are full, yet people in the know attest to the fact that the stands usually stand empty.

To be honest, from what I know of Botswana game reserve and national park camp sites they tend to be overpriced and poorly equipped. Which means, if you want to experience Moremi, it may well be worthwhile saving the pennies to go stay at an up market lodge. Your call, LOF, but as I always say to people who ask me about travelling in Africa, don’t take my word, go and see for yourself.

So, next time I get attacked by a crocodile I’ll remember Bob’s advice abut stroking its belly or tearing out its nostrils, but I won’t know for sure if either remedy works until I try it for myself. I’ll let you know.


John Roberts said...


Don't get too complex with the crocodile avoidance techniques. Two tried and trues; both can be used simultaneously, or seperately:

1. Black dog - always make sure the dog swims first

2. MIL - Always take the Mother-in-Law with you while in the bush. She, generally being a tad slower, takes away the need to remember that 'zig-zag' trick. As long as you can out-run your MIL, you'll be OK.

noddy said...

Croc hypnosis really works, I saw Paul Hogan do it in Crocodile Dundee