Australia

Crocodile cannibal caught on camera in 'horrifying' attack

Crocodile swings another smaller crocodile by the tail in Rinyirru National Park Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption Sandy said the big crocodile was a "monstrous" sight

An Australian woman has described the "horrifying" moment she captured a moment of crocodile cannibalism on camera.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Sandy Bell told the BBC. "It was totally amazing but so shocking."

The pictures of the ferocious attack by the big saltwater crocodile in Rinyirru National Park were picked up around the world earlier this week after they were shared by the Queensland parks agency.

But Ms Bell said she and her son, Nicholas McQueeney, had no idea, because they were staying on one of the Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast.

"I got these emails from friends, then I jumped on Facebook and went oh my gosh, this is a lot of attention!"

'Chomp chomp'

Ms Bell and Nicholas, 14, who are spending a year travelling around Australia, were camping in late October.

Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption The smaller crocodile may already have been dead when the saltie attacked
Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption Sandy and Nicholas are nearing the end of their one-year tour of their country

They were heading to a ranger station so Nicholas could join an online school lesson, when they pulled over to take some pictures of a few crocodiles lying on the bank about 20m (65ft) away.

"The bigger crocodile was sitting in the water, and the littler one was sitting on the edge of the bank," Ms Bell said.

"Suddenly the bigger one grabbed the smaller one and flung it up into the air.

"It starting flinging the smaller one around, splashing it into the water. Then it started eating the tail, and then the legs. Just... chomp chomp chomp."

'Monstrous' head

The dramatic attack went on for about 10-15 minutes before the crocodile - which she says was about 5m long - left the remains on the side of the bank and "slunk away into the water".

She says the smaller croc may well already have been dead or dying, but that she had never seen anything similar before.

Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption The crocodile ate most of the smaller croc before leaving its remains on the shore

"When this massive crocodile reared out of the water, it was pretty special to see. The head just looked monstrous.

"All I could think was you can see how easy it is for animals or people to get taken by a crocodile - because it was so ferocious and strong and powerful."

Ms Bell sent her photos to Queensland National Parks, telling them she thought they might be interested - they were, and shared them on their Facebook page.


How to be 'croc wise'

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Obey crocodile warning signs and never swim where crocodiles may live.
  • Stand back from water's edge while fishing and never stand on logs or branches overhanging water.
  • Never dangle arms or legs out of boats.
  • Never provoke, harass, feed or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
  • Camp at least 2m above the high water mark and at least 50m from the water's edge.

Source: Queensland government


The parks agency said the photos probably show a saltwater crocodile - or saltie - attacking a smaller freshwater one.

It's fairly common for male crocs to attack other males to defend their territories during mating season, which is now, they said, and warned the sight was a good reminder "to be croc wise in croc country".

Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption The parks agency said it was not uncommon for male crocs to attack smaller males in mating seasons, nor to eat their young
Image copyright Sandy Bell

Ms Bell said she and her son were "on a such a high" after the attack, though both were "horrified to see how ferocious the whole thing was".

She also doesn't think Nicholas's online science teacher believed his excuse that he was late for the lesson because "I was just watching a crocodile eat another crocodile".

Image copyright Sandy Bell
Image caption The croc slunk back into the water of Catfish Watering Hole after the attack

But she said they would both be more cautious now in crocodile country.

"There are lots of signs around, but you get a little bit blase."

She advised other travellers: "Be careful, don't take them for granted. All I could think of was how easy it would be if that were an animal or a person. It's horrible, horrible."

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