The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a large freshwater crocodile native to Africa, where it can be found in 26 countries. It lives in a variety of aquatic habitats, including lakes, rivers, swamps, and marshlands, and is widely distributed across Sub-Saharan Africa. They are famed for their mass ambushing of wildebeest once a year at Mara River in Kenya.
It is mainly found in the northern, eastern, and southern regions of the continent. Despite its ability to live in saline waters, this species is rarely found in saltwater, preferring instead to live in deltas and brackish lakes. Existing for over 200 million years, crocodiles outlived the dinosaurs.
Physical Characteristics of the Nile Crocodile
Adult Nile crocodiles are dark bronze on top, with fading blackish spots and stripes varying around the back and a dingy off-yellow on the belly, while mud may mask the crocodile’s true color. Dark patches are set in oblique stripes in highly variable patterns on the flanks, which are yellowish-green in color.
Some variation exists in their markings in relation to climate; for example, specimens from swift-flowing waters are lighter in color than those from murkier lakes or swamps, providing camouflage that matches their environment. The eyes of Nile crocodiles are orange.
Juveniles are grey, multicolored, or brown, with dark cross-bands on the tail and body, which aids in camouflage. Young crocodiles have a yellowish-green underbelly. Nile crocodiles become darker as they mature, and the cross-bands, particularly those on the upper body, fade. Most crocodile species exhibit a similar tendency for coloration change during maturation.
Habitat of the Nile Crocodile
The Nile crocodile is Africa’s most common crocodilian, and it can be found across much of the continent. Only the saltwater crocodile now spans a larger geographic area, despite the fact that other species, especially the spectacled caiman (Caiman Crocodilus) (due to its small size and extreme habitat adaptability and diet flexibility), seem to be more abundant.
The historic range of this species, on the other hand, was much larger. They were discovered as far north as the Mediterranean coast in the Nile Delta and as far south as Palestine and Syria through the Red Sea. The Nile crocodile has been recorded in areas where it is now regionally extinct.
For example, Herodotus documented the species that lived in Egypt’s Lake Moeris. They are thought to have died out in the early nineteenth century (1810–1820) in the Seychelles. Nile crocodiles can now be found in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sudan, South Sudan, Botswana, Cameroon and recently Florida.
Fantastic Facts About the Nile Crocodile
- Nile crocodiles, show the most gentle care towards their eggs and hatchlings, transporting them in bone-crushing, mouths.
- Man eating Nile crocodiles have been discovered in the swamps of Florida, and US scientists don’t know how they got there yet.
- Over 200 people are killed in Africa each year by Nile crocodiles
- Nile crocodiles are prevalent at Africa’s largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria
- Nile crocodiles also ambush herds of river crossing Zebra and impala
The Behavior of the Nile Crocodile
Most crocodilians and other huge, cold-blooded animals, including Nile crocodiles, are relatively inert creatures. If not disturbed, more than half of the crocodiles observed by Cott (1961) spent the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. constantly basking with their jaws open if the weather was sunny.
Nile crocodiles will easily die from overheating if their jaws are bound together in the intense midday sun. Nile crocodiles are said to be constantly conscious of their surroundings and aware of the presence of other creatures, even though they are virtually motionless for hours at a time, whether basking or sitting in shallows.
Over several days the herds crowd together at the waters edge. The adults seem to sense a hiddenSir David Attenborough describing wildebeest ambushing at Mara river, Kenya
danger but the numbers keep piling up on the river’s edge and ultimately the face the dangers together. the crocodiles are spoiled for choice.
However, while mouth-gaping is necessary for thermoregulation, it may also serve as a threat display to other crocodiles, such as when specimens have been observed mouth-gaping at night when overheating is not a risk.
Crocodiles of Lake Turkana, unlike crocodiles in most other regions, seldom bask during the day for unexplained reasons, instead of sitting motionless partially exposed at the surface in shallows with no visible ill effects from the lack of basking on land.
Diet of Nile Crocodile
Nile crocodiles are apex predators. This species is an agile and fast hunter in the water, relying on both movement and pressure sensors to capture any prey that happens to be inside or near the waterfront. When the Nile crocodile is not in water, it must rely solely on its limbs, to pursue prey, which is not very affective, as it gallops on solid ground.
The Nile ‘croc’ and other crocodilians eat almost all of their prey by ambush, having to catch their prey in a matter of seconds to succeed. They have an ectothermic metabolism, which allows them to go long stretches without eating—though they can consume up to half their body weight at once when they do.
The ambushing of thousands of wildebeest, zebras and antelope each year reinvigorates places like the Serengeti; river fish, plants, wild dogs, trees, microorganisms, raptors and hippopotamuses benefit.
Reproduction of the Nile Crocodile
Sexual maturity is usually reached between the ages of 12 and 16. Males reach sexual maturity when they are about 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in) tall and weigh 155 kg (342 lb), which is reasonably consistent. Female size at sexual maturity, on the other hand, is much more complex and may be representative of the health of a regional population.
Female sexual maturity occurs when they exceed 2.2 to 3 m (7 ft 3 into 9 ft 10 in) in length, according to Cott (1961). Similarly, a number of studies from southern Africa showed that females’ average length at sexual maturity was 2.33 meters (7 ft 8 in).
However, stunted sexual maturity appears to occur in populations at opposite ends of the spectrum, both where crocodiles are thought to be overpopulated and where they are overly reduced to heavy hunting, with females laying eggs as small as 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in), though it is questionable whether such clutches would bear healthy hatchlings.
Conservation of the the Nile Crocodile
The population of Nile crocodiles has recovered thanks to international legislation and conservation efforts after being nearly wiped out by hunters in the mid-1900s.
Nile crocodiles were hunted to near extinction but perfect breeding grounds in places like Kruger national park have revived the numbers. However their continued existence is highly threatened by the effects of dams in South Africa and other developing countries.
The Nile crocodile is now classified as a species of lower risk by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), though it still faces threats from habitat loss, deforestation, and hunting in some parts of its range.
The biggest threat to the Nile crocodile is the encroachment of activities of man on it’s water ways. Lake Turkana has become mostly dry due to the construction of new dams, killing wildlife that depend on waterways.
Q & A About Nile Crocodile
Is it true that Nile Crocodile eats humans?
The Nile crocodile and saltwater crocodile are the two species with the most well-known and confirmed reputations for preying on humans, and they are responsible for the vast majority of both fatal and non-fatal crocodilian attacks.
What is the danger level of the Nile crocodile?
Nile Crocodiles are highly dangerous and fearless,against most prey; powerful bites capable of taking down anything from a jackrabbit to a full-grown hippopotamus and they are aggressive when defending their young or fighting for food.
Is it possible for a Nile crocodile to kill a hippo?
Adult hippos can defend themselves against Nile crocodiles, though baby hippos are preyed upon by Nile crocodiles.
In what class are Nile crocodiles?
Nile crocodiles are in the class of ‘Reptilian’.
Nile crocodiles are in which family:
Nile crocodiles are in the crocodylian family: Crocodylidae
Do Nile crocodiles eat Zebras?
Nile crocodiles ambush Zebras in rivers.
Do Nile crocodiles log roll?
Nile crocodiles log roll where they grab and roll their prey under the water
Is the mass ambushing of wildebeest bad for the environment?
The yearly massacre of 6,000 wildebeest on the Serengeti is good for nourishing the whole eco system.
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