Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Feast of the Crocodiles

Five small children huddle together on the bed, the older ones holding the small ones protectively close. Growling, the menacing figure ahead of them lunges, nearly capturing the smallest in his claws. The crying shrieks of the children fill the house as the oldest kicks the beast in the chest, knocking him back to the floor. The monster regains his position for another lunge as the children press themselves harder into the corner furthest away from his relentless attacks.

With a roaring leap, he flings himself onto the bed, ruthlessly grabbing at the smallest, dragging her off the bed. They land with a thud, and he begins to roll and thrash wildly in the floor. The small one flails and cries. The children on the bed wail in grief and horror as their charge is taken down by the glowering beast. Pushing the small ones into the corner, the older two jump to the edge of the bed, not daring to get off, making a desperate but futile attempt to save the youngest. The escalating screams of horror and agony drown the low growl of the beast, who is rearing back to take out another now that the youngest lies motionless.

Those escalating screams also drowned out the voice of an unhappy mother, wishing her children could find quieter ways of occupying themselves.

You have witnessed, my friends, something very few people know about. PBS was our channel of choice years back, and there was a program called Last Feast of the Crocodiles. (I googled a few keywords and learned that just now. lol) We must have watched it three times.

Filmed during a brutal drought in central Africa, this brilliantly photographed video from NatGeo follows the predicament of animals living along the dwindling Luvuvhu River. As the water level sinks during the dry season, baboons and impalas are forced to seek water in pools filled with deadly crocodiles. The behavior of increasingly desperate and thirsty animals is shown in all its brutal detail, and some scenes, such as a violent confrontation between crocodiles and baboons, are heartrending. And while some of the video is inevitably difficult to watch, the photography is always spectacular. This video is both brutal and beautiful, and puts the viewer as close as possible (and desirable) to some of Africa's most amazing wildlife.

From this breathtakingly brutal documentary sprung what was to be our favorite game during 2002-2003 - Crocodiles and Baboons. Emmie Grace was the baby, and Nicholas the ruthless crocodile. Laura, Abby, Joey, and I were usually the dehydrating baboons. Laura and I would desperately try to get some water for the weak little babies. No matter how valiantly we faught, one of us was usually taken down along with a baby. Of course we switched it up sometimes, but this way worked best for maximum fun and drama.

The funny thing is, there wasn't really a point. We were just playing pretend. And when you're pretending, anything can happen. Sometimes the baby baboons would come back to life and crawl back to safety while the crocodile was busy with bigger prey. If the point had been for the crocodile to get all of the baboons, it would have been boring. If the point had been for no baboons to get eaten, it would have been super boring. As it stood, we could play endlessly.

There were no winners, no losers.
Just a bunch of terrified, desperate baboons and cruel, bloodthirsty crocodiles.


  1. I love PBS! One winter my husband and I became obsessed with a show called Pioneer days or something like that.

  2. This is so much fun! I was getting all excited as I was reading, wondering where you were going with this. I'm going to have to check it out now, because I love nature shows.

    You seem like a very entertaining person to be around. :-)


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