A near perfect killing machine and one of the most feared animals on earth, the crocodile has honed its hunting techniques for 200 million years. And although its jaws are its weapon, the crocodile’s success depends on patience and its ability to ambush prey.
“A crocodile will stalk a target for hours or even days if necessary, and an 18-foot, 2,000-pound crocodile can hide in two feet of water and never give itself away,” says Rob Carmichael, a reptile expert and founder of the Wildlife Discovery Center in Chicago.
“You can be close to shore and think you’re safe,” continues Carmichael. “But you’ll never see the attack coming. The crocodile explodes from the water, takes you under and you’re gone. It’s over in seconds.”
There are 23 species of crocodiles, including the Nile – found in Africa and Madagascar – and the saltwater or estuarine crocodile – found in West Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania and Australia.
Both are notorious man-eaters.
The Nile croc can reach a maximum size of 20 feet and weigh up to 1,650 pounds.
The saltwater croc can reach 23 feet in length, weigh 3,000 pounds and exert a bite force of 5,000 pounds per square inch, compared to 400 pounds per square inch for a large great white shark.
Combined, Nile and saltwater crocodiles account for hundreds of deaths each year including the five extraordinary and heartbreaking attacks featured in this five-part story.
“All of these attacks are absolutely horrific,” Carmichael says. “But as gruesome as they are, they’re not really the crocodile’s fault. The attacks are the result of people putting themselves in bad situations. The crocodile is just doing what it is engineered and wired to do. And it does it very well.”
Story One – 22 Hours in Hell
The story of three friends who encounter a large croc while riding 4-wheel ATVs in the Australian Outback.
Story Two – Back Against the Wall
The story of an American model who makes a split-second decision when confronted by a man-eating croc that determines the fate of two lives.
Story Three – An African Thank You
The story of a Seattle doctor whose two-month goodwill trip to Africa turns into a permanent stay.
Story Four – Champ’s Best Friend
The heartbreaking story of a brave little boy, his puppy dog and an ancient predator.
Story Five – An Occurrence at Sandy Creek
A guide leads a group of tourists to a beautiful swimming hole that has just one problem…it's infested with man-eating crocs.