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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crocodile Adventures

Living in far north Queensland means living with crocodiles. The little blighters are everywhere! (don't let the tourism people know I told you though)

During the wet season they show up in drains near people's houses, at the beach, in jellyfish nets, even crossing the main road out to the airport. If it's wet they'll find a way in. So you live with it.

When this photo was taken though, I certainly wasn't too familiar with our big-teethed friends. This was before I moved to Cairns and the closest I had ever come to such a big crocodile was seeing one on TV.

This was taken at South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Well just across the river from the park. We were camped there for a few nights while we took safaris. We were staying at a bankrupt crocodile farm and the crocs were still in their holding pens. This is a large number of very big crocodiles chewing on a hippo carcass. An amazing sight as they grunted and growled at each other as they tore strips off the meat. Who knew crocodiles vocalised?

That night some friends and I decided to unroll our sleeping bags on the ground and sleep out. When we awoke in the morning our bags were surrounded by elephant footprints. They came all the way up to the edge of where we were sleeping and then veered around our bodies. Good thing elephants can sense their way in the dark!

While we were eating breakfast the worried owner of the crocodile farm came running up to us. Assuming he was concerned about the elephants we assured him we were fine. But he was more concerned about something else. "When the farm went bankrupt we let the biggest crocs out into the river (about 30m down a steep embankment from the campsite). At night the biggest ones often walk back into camp looking for a feed. You are very lucky not to have been eaten!"

Well that'll remind me to ask a local before sleeping out in the open. While we were there there was a couple filming leopards for a National Geographic special. They had been there for 6 months and only spotted a leopard twice.

Note to Self: unless you're photographing crocodiles in a pen nature photography takes a lot of time and patience!

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