Croc Capture Offers Lessons on Living With Killers

Brian Handwerk
for Ultimate Explorer
June 10, 2004

On the shores of Africa's Lake Victoria in Uganda the tiny village of Lubango lives under the shadow of man-eaters that have killed nearly a dozen people and maimed many others. The killers are giant crocodiles.

Villagers say the crocs, reported to be over 20 feet (6 meters) long, have repeatedly attacked people along area shorelines. Residents say the reptiles have even hauled victims from fishing boats.

Is there a solution that will help humans and crocs to coexist? Ultimate Explorer correspondent and crocodile expert Brady Barr was asked to capture and relocate the deadly animals—and to teach villagers how to live safely with crocs. National Geographic Ultimate Explorer recently spoke with Barr about the experience.

Why are these animals preying on humans?

The crocs are not doing anything wrong. They are just being crocs. In that area, their historic food supply is gone. People have overfished the lake.

We saw very few fish of any size. And a big croc isn't going to make a living by just eating fish. It will sometimes pull down an antelope or a baboon—something like that. But we saw no animals there—literally none—other than people.

The crocs are survivors, so they've turned to the next available food source. Unfortunately, that means humans.

Of course the people [there] are just trying to survive as well, so it's a delicate situation.

Is this a unique situation? Or you find dangerous crocs like this in other places?

Unfortunately you see this all over the world now. Historically, people live around water because they need it to survive. In the tropics, that's the same place you're going to find crocs.

In Malawi, for example, we did a film on the same problem—too many people had exhausted the area's natural resources. So the crocs there also turned to the next available food source.

How did you come to tangle with these man-eating crocs in Uganda?

Continued on Next Page >>




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