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Old 12-26-2010   #11
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
Wild animals are just that, behavior in beasts is studied but we don't know what animals are thinking. It's not like a bunch of pocket pals on keychains... rip Hendri, we should learn that life is life and we need to be grateful for our time here on this planet, and 2 respect not just people but animals and their environments...

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Old 12-26-2010   #12
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
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Posts: 600
There is no amount of technique, equipment, skill or knowledge that one can aquire that can compete against that ugly face of "FATE" (bad luck) when it wants to show itself. There are only two things 100% for sure in life they are death and taxes.

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Old 12-26-2010   #13
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Paddling Since: 1994
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that type of attack is action/ reaction. in this case there was no time for reaction. it is kinda like a head on collision on a two lane road. we all know if someone is coming towards you, you swerve. if they decide to come at you at the last second it doesnt matter what you know, there isnt time to react. in my meager 600 some odd miles of hippo and croc water, never once did i think i could win. every hippo i rowed like hell to get away from and every croc that slithered in and dissapeared under the raft, i knew they could have me if they wanted. luckily on that trip, they didnt want. dude was blindsided like a sitting duck. if hendri hadnt done everything right he would have been eaten a long time ago. it truly is a matter of luck and exposure and hendri was overexposed and the unlucky one that day. not a bad choice if you ask me. in fact i am feeling a little underexposed right now. anybody wanna go to africa, maybe the amazon??
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Old 12-26-2010   #14
memphis, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Dec 2010
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What 600 miles have you done? Did you know any of the South African guys, Coetzee or Meredith or Fisher or Ricketts?

I can't relate to crocs or hippos, but I do a lot of swamp paddling where there are other deadly risks, and even after 20 years of it, I'm still learning new things and adding new defensive techniques. Had you guys ever seen a case before where a croc snuck up from behind in the middle of the channel and took out one guy in a formation? Now that you know that's a risk, the blind spot behind you, isn't there anything you can think to do to add some protection?
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Old 12-26-2010   #15
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i ran six hundred some miles on the omo and a few on the nile. all in ethiopia. i watched at least 300 crocs slide into the water on the omo,some headed our way some not. never really worried about the crocs while on the river in the raft. the most exposed i have ever felt was when i was wading in the nile through side channels to scout an upcoming portage of class 5 arifami falls. at the scout we spotted a few crocs in the eddy below. the wade back through knee and thigh deep side channels was more unnerving than the wade in knowing they were all around. everytime the grass moved around us i would about shit. still one of the coolest days ever, ever on a river. on the omo we floated past at least 200 hippos and got chased daily in the heart of the gorge. luckily they just escorted us downstream and out of their territory. move along little rafts, nothing to see here. they could have had us whenever they wanted. you can only row a raft so fast and they can swim faster than that. the first raft around the corner alerts them and the forth is at their mercy. hell, the first is at their mercy, they are FAST in the water.

i met and spent one night with hendri after the omo trip. i dont know any of the others

luckily i havent seen a croc come from behind and snag one of my crew. we always went down to the river in pairs. we would hang onto each others if we had to get in, ready to pull back if the water so much as rippled. i still feel like it was a false sense of security. crocs lunge out of the water so fast i am not sure we could have reacted even though we were ready. running shit where the wildlife will eat you definitely has to have a heightened level of awareness. i spent all day everyday over there being aware, sometimes to a paranoid level, always making up scenarios in my head. i think it is good and i am not ranking on you for thinking of what if scenarios. i am just saying that there are those instances that are unavoidable no matter your level of preparation and i think hendris attack was one. how many times did hendri win? how many crocs slid past him unnoticed and how many did he bat away? odds wise, i say he did pretty good. thousands of miles of croc infested water in a kayak and much of it solo. lets be rational, he was all but asking for it. can i think of things to do, yeah. who knows if it will work when you need it or what other problem it could cause. i just think hendri was as aware and prepared as possible, besides maybe wearing plate armor and paddling backwards. neither of which seem feasible. if a rearview mirror makes you feel better paddling in the swamp, install that sucker. fit the kayak with fishfinders and all sorts of shit if it makes sense, hell have a chopper standing by with aerial recon if you got the means. i have always tried to be as aware and prepared as possible, within reason. constant raw awareness is our greatest asset. i think it makes my chances of survival much better. chances being the operative.
zach baird
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Old 12-27-2010   #16
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 56
Has anybody considered the red color of his kayak creating somewhat of a lure?
Big Da
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Old 12-28-2010   #17
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Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
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Good posts zbaird.

Nile Crocodiles, Nile Crocodile Pictures, Nile Crocodile Facts - National Geographic
This site estimates 200 people a year are killed by nile crocs. It sounds like all crocs are potential maneaters.

Hard to imagine the strength of a 15 foot croc in the water. Thought about a pointed knife; spiked paddle; body armor (all very theoretical here; not planning on paddling with crocs); ... going for the eye seems like your best chance; and hard to do underwater. Hendri must have tried that; sounds like he stayed in his boat upsidedown, fighting, for 20 seconds.

Development of a croc repellent could be a possibility, that might increase your odds. Sort of like shark repellents for surfers (not perfect, but some have value)


I read an estimate that sharks only kill 5 to 7 people a year worldwide, but there has been a great deal of research on shark repellents.
This one works:
HowStuffWorks Videos "Shark Week: Shark Repellent"
Electromagnetic shark repellent
Freedom7 > Product Range > Shark Shield
Mythbusters said chili peppers didn't work for sharks
Myth: Do chili peppers work as shark repellant? : Discovery Channel
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Old 12-28-2010   #18
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Hoback Nation, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jun 2010
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There's a nice tribute video/song on Youtube on TheAdrinalinRush channel for Hendri.
"Each mile on a river will take you further from home than a hundred miles on a road"
Bob Marshall
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Old 12-28-2010   #19
memphis, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Dec 2010
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A few days ago a scientist in Florida gave me the name of a nile croc expert in Africa, and I emailed him asking him for comment. His response is given below. It’s pretty scary, to me anyway. He talks about a “baby boom” of crocodiles born in the 1970s, when active persecution ended, now reaching a critical size of 3 meters. At that size, eating fish and other small prey no longer provides enough food for survival, so they are forced to seek larger mammals.

I guess I was wrong in speculating that there might be a small group of maneaters responsible for most human deaths, as he makes no mention of it.

Although his last statement says that paddlers “should be fine” if they follow the usual precautions, that just sounds like touristy calm-down talk. I don’t see how any of those precautions is going to stop a sneak-up-from-behind attack. He says he has received reports of other attacks like this on native Africans in canoes, and that we have a baby boom generation just now reaching maneater size. In light of that, it sounds like there may be more kayaker deaths coming in similar circumstances.

I’m not sure what to make of his statement that “it would be fairly easy to out paddle a croc.” Other info I’ve seen says crocs have a sustained swimming speed of 10 kph, with bursts up to 15-18 kph. Big canoes and ocean kayaks might be able to beat those speeds on flat water, but not the specialized whitewater boats you need to run class V rapids.
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Old 12-28-2010   #20
memphis, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 6
expert comment

From Dr Patrick Aust
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology
Here Be Dragons

This attack is perhaps rare but not unusual. Large male nile crocodiles regularly attack canoes/kayaks out of territorial defence (mistaking these objects for other male crocs) and as a predatory response. There are several documented cases of attacks under both circumstances. This particular case could have been the result of either behaviour, but I am inclined to believe it is a predatory attack.

The boom generation of Nile crocs from the 1970s (end of uncontrolled persecution) is now reaching a size where they require large meals. In general they progress from fish to terrestrial prey and by the time they reach the 10ft plus mark they either need a very healthy supply of large fish (relatively uncommon now in Africas over fished waters) or terrestrial prey like medium sized mammals (also fairly rare now outside of protected areas). Nile crocs are fairly common outside of protected areas in africa. They are prolific breeders inside protected areas and the young disperse widely and fairly quickly, often outside of protected areas. They generally fair quite well whilst they are preying on small animals and fish (up to about 2m) and their cryptic nature allows them to go relatively undetected. Over the 2m 'fish eating' size, they invariably end up in trouble - attacking livestock or people or in areas where alternative water is available (independence from waters edge) many large animals go hungry simply because they run (or grow) out of food options. It is these large hungry crocs that are capable of extreeme predatory behaviour.

This phenomenon is world wide, and we are seeing and increasing number of these unusual croc attacks in many areas.

Provided kayakers are aware of their surroundings (stay away from breeding/basking banks, vegetated areas etc), and they keep a close watch out for suspicious looking crocs, they should be fine. In a typical scenario (ie not an ambush, close range affair) it would be fairly easy to out paddle a croc.


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