An eighteen-year-old girl has died after being attacked by a Crocodile on Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province, Zambia on Friday 7 December 2018. Precious Kaunda of Mufulira District was swimming in the lake with a group of friends when she was attacked by the animal, which dragged her beneath the water. The Crocodile was shot by a member of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, enabling them to recover Ms Kaunda's body. Worryingly when the Crocodile was later cut open a set of older Human remains were found inside, which have yet to be identified.
People bathing in Lake Bangweulu, Zambia. Wikimedia Commons.
Lake Bangweulu forms part of the Bangweulu Wetlands System, along with the Bangweulu Swamps and the Bangweulu Flats (a seasonal floodplain), a system that is fed by a series of rivers in Zambia, and drained by the Luapula River, which forms the border between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo flows into Lake Mweru, in the Congo Basin. The lake has an area of about 3000 km² in the dry season, which rises to about 15 000 km² in the rainy season when the swamps and flats are flooded. The system supports an extensive Fishing industry with about 10 000 people employed harvesting Fish from the lake.
Zambia is home to two Crocodile species, the Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, and the Central African Slender Snouted Crocodile, Mecistops leptorhynchus, the later is found only around Lake Bangweulu and the Luapula River in Northern and Luapula Provinces. Attacks by Crocodiles are almost always carried out by Nile Crocodiles, which are are large animals, reaching about five meters in length, and are ambush predators capable of taking large prey, including, on occasion, Humans. The animals are thought to be at their most dangerous around September on the Zambezi, when the water is lowest, and females are guarding eggs buried in nests by the river.
Nile Crocodiles are large animals, reaching about five meters in length, and are ambush predators capable of taking large prey, including, on occasion, Humans. The animals are thought to be at their most dangerous around September on the Zambezi, when the water is lowest, and females are guarding eggs buried in nests by the river. Nile Crocodiles are considered to be of Least Concern under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, but are still protected in many countries, including Zambia, due to historic hunting which decimated populations in many areas. However, the rising number of attacks on Humans by the animals has led to calls for regulated hunting to be introduced to control the population.
The smaller Slander Snouted Crocodiles feed largely on Fish and Crustaceans; they will occasionally take small Mammals, but are very unlikely to attack and consume anything as large a s Human. The species was formerly thought to be the same as the West African Slender Snouted Crocodile, but was recognised as a second species in 2014. This species is considered to be Critically Endangered under the terns of the Red List of Threatened Species, with a total population of less than 2000 adults scattered across Central Africa from Zambia to Cameroon, and would likely be put at risk by any resumption of Crocodile hunting within its range.
The range of the West and Central African Slender Snouted Crocodiles. ESRI/International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
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