Elderly tourist escapes jaws of crocodile

Image for illustrative purposes only

KOMATIPOORT – A 63-year-old man survived a crocodile attack on Monday after the reptile dragged him into the Komati River while he was reeling a fish out of the water. Mr Allan Peeters, a holidaymaker from the Free State, was fishing at the Komati low-water bridge with friends and family on Monday afternoon. When he hooked a fish and moved closer to the water to reel it in, a crocodile launched out of the water and grabbed him, and dragged him in. The two struggled and Peeters somehow managed to get to safety.

His companions contacted emergency services. Securicon Lowveld’s ambulance service responded and a local doctor was called in to help stabilise Peeters before he was rushed to Mediclinic Nelspruit. According to Mr Pieter du Plooy of the ambulance service, Peeters’ left forearm was bitten off, his right wrist was crushed and he sustained soft-tissue damage to his right leg. Due to the severity of his injuries, Peeters was airlifted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon.

At the time of going to press, he was in a critical condition but stable in the ICU.

Komati low-water bridge

Komati low-water bridge

Dr Hannes Botha, a herpetologist at the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority (MTPA), said the crocodile’s behaviour was rare, but not unusual.  “There have been cases in the past where a crocodile has launched itself out of the water to attack people. “Their momentum is so great that it ends up increasing the damage they do with their razor-sharp teeth,” he stated.

READ MORE: Man survives Crocodile attack

Botha explained that it is not necessarily the drought conditions that drove the crocodile to attack a human. As the water levels decrease, fish have less room to hide in and crocodiles end up having an easier time getting fish.  “Crocodiles grow to such a large size that humans become their prey. When people crouch or sit next to the water, they look smaller and are therefore a target for the croco-diles. Cleaning fish near rivers and dams and dumping guts in the shallows can draw the crocodiles from afar.”

It is currently breeding season for crocodiles and the females are protecting the nests until the babies hatch in January. Botha warned that their tempers are short and although they won’t necessarily attack people, they will put up a fierce display to chase intruders away.  Botha warned Lowvelders to be very careful near rivers and dams where crocodiles have been spotted.

He urged anglers not to stand in the shallows, sit or crouch next to dams or clean fish and dump entrails in the water.

Retha Nel

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