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Monday, September 2, 2013

Kiwi Kayaker escapes from predatory crocodile...


A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double bladed paddle. The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler. Their cockpit is sometimes covered by a spraydeck (or "skirt") that prevents the entry of water from waves or spray and makes it possible for suitably skilled kayakers, to roll the kayak: that is, to capsize and right it without it filling with water or ejecting the paddler.

Mirror UK reports of a burglar  who was caught paddling across the Channel to Europe in a stolen kayak, a court heard yesterday. It is reported that Paul Redford, 45, wanted to start a new life abroad, was less than a mile off the Kent coast when he was picked up by the RNLI. Redford, a “three-strike” burglar, admitted a burglary in Darlington and a theft in Blyth, Northumberland, and was remanded in custody. His lawyer, James Fenney, confirmed the canoe used in his unusual getaway had been stolen from a holiday home in Folkstone a fortnight ago. Reports suggest that the burglar  will receive a minimum three-year jail sentence and that a lengthy jail term is a near inevitability.

In Zoology, there is the tetrapods ~ the superclass Tetrapoda are ‘four footed’ animals and would include amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Crocodiles are large aquatic tetrapods that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia.  Though there could be many biological varieties, broadly there are – the mugger, alligator and gharials. The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) are native to India and are found in Ganges valley.  The muggers look somewhat ugly and sluggish – but understand that they can move extremely fast on short spurts and when chasing a prey. The land speed record for a crocodile is 17 km/h (11 mph) measured in a galloping Australian freshwater crocodile raised clear of the ground. 
photo courtesy : dailymail.co.uk

Crocodiles are ambush predators, waiting for fish or land animals to come close, then rushing out to attack. Crocodiles mostly eat fish, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, reptiles, mammals and occasionally cannibalize on smaller crocodiles.  They can attack and harm humans too.  What a crocodile eats varies greatly with species, size and age.

With humans greedily constructing tenements everywhere in areas which were once lakes, on reservoirs and on forest zones, such conflicts are on the rise. Recently,  I had posted of an incident at Nerkundram [which means place of paddy]  where in the drying up lake in Chennai, a man grazing his cows had to run helter-skelter; as he sighted a crocodile ~ a fully grown fierce marsh crocodile or a mugger.  Crocodile attacks on people are common in places where large crocodiles are native and human populations live.  Not all species are considered to be dangerous to human – still one could tremble with fear if accosted by a crocodile.   The mugger crocodile  seen in India is  dangerous to humans, killing many people in India every year. The attack of crocodile could in defense of its territory, nest, or self or can be predatory, accidental or in the course of handling by the people. In another incident near Cuddalore, a 55-year-old farmer was killed by a crocodile at Kollidam in Cuddalore district.

Miles away, there is an interesting report in NZ Herald of a Kiwi kayaker having  an amazing escape after becoming trapped on a remote West Australian island for more than two weeks by a massive crocodile who would not let him leave.

The man, known only as Brian, was last month exploring the northern WA coast near Kalumburu, which is between Derby and Kununurra. Having been left on the remote Governor Island, the Kiwi realised he didn't have enough supplies and attempted to paddle the four kilometres or so back to the mainland. He immediately caught the eye of the six-metre saltwater crocodile who has lived in the area for years. Every time he attempted to leave, the crocodile would make his presence felt, leaving the adventurer stranded for a fortnight.

On Saturday, local Don MacLeod spotted a light on the island, and when he checked it out, the hatless, shirtless and desperate visitor approached. The saviour told ABC radio that he saw a flash in the scrub, went across and saw Brian looking a bit distraught- with no hat or no shirt on.  Naturally, the aggrieved man was relieved and shocked and thankful that someone had come along because he was running out of options pretty quickly.

Brian's passage to WA was an incredible story in itself, having travelled from Queensland to the Kimberley on a yacht whose owner was then jailed in the Northern Territory, leaving his passenger stranded for two months. After hitching a lift with a solo yachtsman from the Territory to WA, he was dropped on Governor Island with 160 litres of water, some flour and dry stores. But after realising he was unprepared for the Kimberley wilderness, his first attempt to reach the mainland was thwarted by the massive crocodile.

The story looks incredible ~ the poor man reportedly was chased by the monster every time he got in his little kayak, which was only 2.5m long.  Report concludes stating that the New Zealander has been given a bed at a mission on the mainland as he recovers. There are many adventurous people; some land up in serious trouble and still get away…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

2nd Sept 2013.

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