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Crocodiles: Here Be Dragons.

Nature documentaries often can be cruel in dispassionately witnessing what goes on in the animal kingdom, and this video is no exception. Watching the crocodiles in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park - weighing as much as a ton and running up to 16' long - lurking beneath the surface of the Grumeti River, just nostrils, ears, and eyes above water level, is chilling. Soon come the thundering hoofbeats of thousands of wildebeest on their annual migration across East and Central Africa, pausing to drink at the banks of the river. What ensues is a feeding frenzy as the fierce reptiles attack, capturing the wildebeest in their crushing jaws and dragging them beneath the surface. Meanwhile, the placid bovines, after momentarily shying away as one of the herd is snatched from their midst, return to the water like some obliging fast-food service, allowing the crocodiles to feast until sated. Since the reptiles' metabolism is so slow, it will not be necessary for them to eat for months following this once-a-year event.

The opposite side of the coin is revealed when the female crocodiles come ashore to lay their eggs and bury them. Though they lay up to 80 a year, more than 50% are lost to monitor lizards, birds, marsh mongooses, and other predators. After they hatch, the young crocodiles are equally at risk, falling prey to giant perch in the river and rapacious birds swooping down from the sky. Despite their mothers' efforts to protect them, more than 90% fail to survive the first year.

As always with National Geographic documentaries, this portrait of "the animal that kills while it's smiling' is a fascinating one. It will make a fine addition to nature lovers' video libraries.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Society for the Advancement of Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rothenberg, Robert S.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:283
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