Photographer's Note

When I was on my Botswana safari last year, I wanted to get a good shot of the world’s most dangerous crocodile – the Nile crocodile, which along with hippos and lions account for several hundred deaths and disappearances in central Africa each year.

We saw plenty of fine specimens basking in the sun along the banks of the Chobe River, but none in the water. So I asked my boatman to stop near this large beast (he was about five metres long – about the average adult length of these reptiles), and I slipped over the back of the boat into the river to see if I could attract him into the water.

For while the croc didn’t move, so standing waist-deep in the river, I started splashing water towards the croc and shouting: “Come and get me you ugly Crocodylus niloticus!”

That caught his attention and he slowly crawled off the bank and into the water to enable me to get this shot.

I was about to climb back into the boat when I realised that my boots were stuck in the mud at the bottom of the river, and I couldn’t move.

If that wasn’t bad enough, suddenly two aggressive hippos broke away from a bloat of hippopotami that had been quietly drifting past in the middle of the river (see first Workshop post) and started swimming towards me snorting loudly.

My boatman screamed at me to get back in the boat, but my feet were well and truly stuck in the mud.

With my life flashing before my eyes, sinking in the water up to my chest – a man-eating croc coming at me from one direction and two angry hippos from the other - I thought I was a goner.

But it was not to be the end of banyanman after all, because just at that moment two elephants that had been crossing the river behind us (see second Workshop post) bellowed at the croc and the hippos and that momentarily distracted them enabling me to toss my D100 into the back of the boat, dive under the water and undo the laces on my boots, and scramble back into the boat.

As I pulled my legs out of the water, I felt one ankle brush against the jaws of the advancing crocodile – I’d released myself from my boots in the nick of time. A narrow escape indeed!

If anyone finds a pair of Loof Lirpa brand boots floating down the Chobe River, please return them to me.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1231 W: 108 N: 2568] (7797)
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