When we think about the Nile River, the one animal we connect with it is the Nile Crocodile. This Crocodile is not only common in Egypt, but it is also common in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
Ancient Egyptians worshiped a crocodile-god called Sobek. Sobek’s was associated with fertility, protection, and the Pharaoh’s power. Like the Nile Crocodile, they had an ambivalent relationship with Sobek as the Ancient Egyptians sometimes hunted crocodiles and reviled Sobek yet they also saw him as a protector and a source of pharonic power. Despite this, in 5th century BC, some Egyptians kept crocodiles as pampered pets. In Sobek’s temple, they kept a crocodile wading in a pool inside the temple where it was fed, worshiped, and covered with jewelery. When it died, they were embalmed and mummified before placing it into a sarcophagus where it was placed into a sacred tomb. In fact, there are many mummified crocodiles and crocodile eggs found in Egyptian tombs.
They are dark bronze in color, with black spots on the back and a dirty purple belly. They have green eyes, 4 legs, a tail, powerful jaws, and scaly skin. Their yellow-green flanks have darked patches arranged in oblique stripes. However, there is some variation in their color depending on the environment as those living in flowing water are lighter skinned than those living in swamps or lakes. Due to this, they can camouflage themselves by submerging into the water while only their eyes, and nostrils are above the water.
The Nile Crocodile was hunted for their high quality leather and meat during the 1940s to the 1960s. As a result, this species almost faced extinction. National laws and international trade regulations have resulted in the rehabilitation of this animal and as a result, this species is no longer an endangered species.
It is estimated that there is a population of 250,000 to 500,000 Nile Crocodiles living in the wild. Successful sustainable programs which focus on rearing crocodiles for their skins have been successfully implemented. Nowadays, many authentic Nile Crocodile leather products are from these programs, even in countries that have a healthy wild Nile Crocodile population.
Sadly, this is not the case in west and central Africa even though it makes up approximately two thirds of the Nile Crocodiles habitat. The problem is that it has not been adequately surveyed and the population in this area is more sparse. In addition, there has been a loss of wetland habitats and the fact that they were heavily hunted in the 1970s.
This predatory animal is carnivorous. It feeds on barbel catfish, dead animals, and more. Sadly, the primary threat to the Nile Crocodile are still humans despite the fact that illegal poaching is not a problem any more. Instead, their threats are hunters, the crocodile accidentally getting tangled in fishing nets, and pollution. However, aggressive Nile Crocodiles do get their payback as a few hundred people are killed a year by these animals.
Crocs are really one animal that really scares me, one reason why I don’t swim in water.