If you’re a feathered visitor to a swampy marsh, you’d do well to think twice before alighting on a conveniently placed branch in the middle of the water. The temptation – especially if its nesting season – to grab twigs and branches sticking out of the water, could lead you to being mugged, with fatal consequences. The Mugger Crocodile of Kabini is a past master at subterfuge, and often uses snares like branches and twigs that he holds up, while staying submerged, just to lure birds that decide to take the happy offerings, and realise too late that there’s no such thing as a free nest. This much subtlety, though, seems unnecessary for someone nature has endowed with an array of alarming weapons. But then, the Mugger Croc has always preferred guile over brute force, and is a brilliant ambush hunter who often creeps up on unsuspecting prey before it’s even aware that the harmless log floating by, is neither harmless, nor a log. That’s when he propels himself out of the water with frightening speed, and latches on with those twenty four wicked daggers on either jaw to grasp and crush the hapless victim. Another fascinating thing is that his tummy is full of stones (no gall stone problems, obviously) that he’s swallowed, that act as a mortar and pestle to grind all the meat he’s eaten. He may seem remorseful as he cries for his victims, but his famous ‘Crocodile Tears’, are just because his eyes bubble and froth while feeding. While he owes his name (and infamy) to the Hindi word ‘magar’ which means crocodile, and not to his exploits in a dark, swampy alley, you’d do well to give the Mugger a wide berth… or you may well find yourself wearing an expensive crocodile skin suit, but you won’t be around to flaunt it.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.