marten gets attacked by a croc

The scene of the attack. See the dark spot in the water on the left? Marten and croc were there.

Mufasa Monkey Bay is a campsite on a small beach in Monkey Bay on Lake Malawi.  While a lodge is being built, those who choose to stay live without electricity, having no refrigeration, cooking on an open fire, and sleeping in tents on the beach or occasionally in a room with a thatched roof.  Mufasa is nestled next to the Lake Malawi National Park and is in nature, with sightings of crocs, hippos, and snakes not uncommon.  This is where I spent the past 2 months.

While I was there, a trio of Dutch guys- Minne, Marten, and Henk- arrived in an orange VW van they had driven from Holland through Africa over the past 15 months (google: Three Left Hands).  One day, Marten was attacked by a crocodile no more than 20 meters off the shore of the beach at about 1pm.

I wade in the water after lunch, and Marten comes in for a swim.  We have a laugh about a joke then he wades in past me.  I am in shallow water, sitting on the sandy bottom when I hear bloody murder screaming from behind me.  I know instantly that a croc has gotten Marten.  I stand up, scream “No!” followed by what feels like an entire minute of endless screaming to motivate someone to get in the water and save our friend.  I look at Marten, see him struggling with the crocodile, and am scared it is going to kill him.  He is screaming sounds that make no words and I want to help him, but I can’t go out there without protection.  I feel helpless standing there, not even knee-deep in water, knowing instinctively that if I go to him, I will be eaten too.

I look to the beach where Enoch and Henry stand frozen, staring at the ruckus.  They must feel exactly how I do, that forcing their bare bodies to help him will only leave them chomped and shredded.  But they are men, I think, and they must do something, because Marten is not about to die at the claws of the croc.  Changing my tone, I scream louder and faster, directing them.  I yell at them to get a stick, a pole, to bring a machete.  The rest of the group at the campsite run out onto the beach and also stand frozen, staring with fright at the fight in the water between man and reptile.

I scream for the guys to help him, to do something, to do it now, now.  The croc pulls him under water, he gasps above the surface for air, and the body of the croc comes out of the water and charges Marten’s body.  He is struggling, his long hair plastered in front of his face and he franticly tries to pull away from an entanglement with the fierce reptile.

I look back to the beach and finally- it feels like it’s been too long- Tinus and Henry sprint down the beach and grab a metal pole off the spit set up to roast a goat that night.  The two burly men charge full force into the water towards the commotion.  The beasts come out of everyone as people kick into action.  Mayhem.  We yell and scream as loud as we can, a horde of people and dog drawn magnetically behind Tinus and Henry rushing into the water.  Something deep in our limbic brain ignites the firing of adrenaline and the accompanying fight or flight sensations.  Our collective consciousness kicks in to make us act big, act as one, to scare away the croc.  It works and Marten breaks free.  We all scoot out of the water quickly.

Our arms go under his shoulders and around his waist to support him, bringing him up to the sitting area.  He is calm, and when we ask where the croc got him, he replies, “my ass.”  Bright red blood pours out of his hands.  He lays down on a hard surface for us to treat him.  We take a look at his legs and arms.  He has bloody nail scratches across his shoulder while fat pokes out of the gashes on his buttocks and calf and blood pours from his fingers, also spilling something whitish, like tendons.

I dig down for the Wilderness First Responder training I received two years ago; it’s the first emergency I’m faced with in a wilderness situation.  The information is fuzzy and scrambled in my brain from not being used.  First thing we will stop the bleeding.  Even before that, I know I need gloves.  I look at the first aid box and I’m not familiar with it.  He is Alert and Oriented times 4.  We all went last week to give blood so I know he doesn’t have HIV or Hepatitis.  Where are the gloves?  Fuck it, I’ll go without gloves (not the wisest decision).  I think if there is the potential for a spinal injury and decide there isn’t.  Tinus is next to me, soaking cotton wool with antiseptic and bandaging him up like he learned in the South African army.  A for airway- he’s breathing and talking.  B for bleeding, wait no, it’s for breathing, he’s okay.  C for circulation, he’s losing blood.  D for spinal injury, he’s fine.  E for environment- make him comfy and don’t let accident # 2 happen while treating him.  Lookout for fluid loss and shock.  Good thing it wasn’t Zander in the water.  Good thing the croc didn’t go for the 6 year old, because he probably wouldn’t be with us.

Bandaging pre-hospital

We are stopping the bleeding and have almost all of his wounds taken care of.  What are the signs of shock, I think to myself.  Dammit, why can’t I remember?  Ah, if you don’t use it you lose it, I hear a motherly voice say in my head.  We decide he needs to go to the Cape Mclear hospital and I wonder if 45 minutes is too long of a drive for him.  I feel like we are pushing it.  We load him into the back of the Namibian guys’ Hilux and his face is white.  Henk and I hop in the back with him.  We give him a peanut butter sammy and a sprite, keeping him covered.  He’s going to be okay, his wounds aren’t bleeding too profusely.  We race along the dirt road to Cape Mclear and arrive to a nearly empty clinic.

medical report

I tell the man in charge that our friend has been attacked by a croc.  He informs me that it is lunch and the doctor will be back at 2pm.  It’s 20 minutes til.  “This is urgent, we need the doctor now.”  No problem.  Three young ladies show up quickly and treat Marten.  They give him a drip of antibiotics and one course to take home.  Marten deals with it incredibly.  He is mellow and with it the entire time.  He is a strong kid.  Ava, a young doctor from the UK sews him up as we all rehash what the hell just happened.  She tells him to come back tomorrow for a wound inspection.  We are on our way, relieved that he got away without more damage.  You’ll have a hell of a story to tell your grandkids, we say.

Later that night the local animal patrol/ army guys bait the croc and shoot it with an R1, a gun made in South Africa and used during WWII.  The next morning the guys drag the croc out of the water.  Marten has his last words with him and cuts out his upper jaw.

sweet revenge

All in all, he got away with 20 stitches and all of us feeling that it could’ve been worse.  This croc was about 2m long but they can grow to be much bigger.  All the same, lesson is: crocs won’t get away with eating people in Monkey Bay.

Marten (left) and Henk with croc

11 Responses to “marten gets attacked by a croc”
  1. Eytan says:

    Damn! That’s a great story, and cool pics. Way to go being calm under pressure (well, able to act and react anyway). I think I’d be pretty much stone cold stunned as were the other people. I know who I’d like around on my next wilderness adventure…

  2. maybe so, but i definitely need to brush up on some of that knowledge!

  3. Kenneth says:

    Marten’s very lucky that you were there, and that he wasn’t surrounded by passive people who watch as tragedies happen. That primal response happened to some degree because you made it clear that non-action was a non-option. Thanks for sharing the story and pictures. What an intense experience! I just saw the movie The Beach last week, and it has a very similar scene in it, where three Scandinavian hippies are hanging out on the beach and one gets attacked and badly injured. Predators are powerful in a very primitive way – teeth, claws, and muscle. Your determination to help was powerful too.

  4. David Frierman says:

    Hadn’t read it before, great recounting, horrible accident…

  5. julious piti says:

    I m very shocked and could see how you stoped the croc to swalo him. I was born a natural hunter in Mozambique. Wild beast can be dangerous. Thank God, his life time is still there. Her will live another couple tens of years. Good luck.

  6. Ricky Johnston says:

    Wow! What a harrowing adventure. Living in the “developed” world makes one forget how powerful predators can be. Luck and health to Martin.

  7. Lesh says: Poor Marten. But you’re right, I think it could have been worse!

  8. Stu says:

    Holy shit, my wife and I stayed here for four days only a couple of months later. Tinus the owner told us it was safe to swim – he said there were no crocs here! What a crock of shit!!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Here is an eyewitness blog post. It says nothing about a dog in the water…so I don’t feel too sure about the truth. My recollection is that at Mufasa I was told that the problem was that the crocodile attack victim (who survived) went swimming with a dog despite being warned not to. […]

  2. […] an update on the croc story I found this link. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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