A photographer captured the moment as more than 20 crocodiles fought over a dead cow in the waters of Corroboree Billabong, Northern Territory, Australia.
Michele Bain from Palmerston told local news outlets that she first saw long tracks in the bush, later finding out that it was caused by the dead cow dragged back into the water by a four-meter crocodile. She was watching the spectacle from her houseboat, located in the middle of the crocodile-infested waters, together with her husband Mark last September 2.
A Crocodile Feast at the Billabong
She claimed that the cow was "definitely dead" by the time it was being carried back into the water, appearing bloated as if it was drowned. Bain also noted the presence of "black, slimy flesh, like the skin of a seal."
As the four-meter reptile started tearing flesh from the cow, more crocodiles were drawn to the bloated carcass. In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Michele Bain recalled that there were not a lot of crocodiles when they first went past the view, but upon returning, they saw "about 20 crocodiles above the water."
However, there were more saltwater crocodiles lurking underneath the surface, also inching towards the meal. As the other crocodiles tried to get a bite, the larger reptile dragged the cow into the waters. It was even gnashing its teeth to frighten the others away, according to Bain.
"There was lots of fighting and splashing - we've been going to that spot for years and we've never seen anything like it."
While crocodiles usually take a few days to a week to devour a prey as large as the cow, Bain reported that the cow was completely gone the next day, less than 24 hours after the feast.
Despite the number of crocodiles in the billabong, the couple claimed that they weren't afraid. Michele Bain explained that she was equipped with a long lens and had been taking photos for a long time. Furthermore, she was in a secure boat. She advised people to be "croc-wise and not get too close."
Corroboree Billabong's Saltwater Crocodiles
The Corroboree billabong where the Bain couple captured the rare sight is a part of the Mary River Wetlands, a system of swamps and wetlands in Australia's Northern Territory. Located about 90 minutes to the town of Darwin in the northwest, the wetlands contain the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world.
Saltwater crocodiles are among the world's largest reptiles, weighing up to a thousand kilograms (2,200 pounds) and growing up to six meters (20 feet) long. In their native environment, they can remain motionless and are usually mistaken as driftwood or partially submerged logs. The Australian Reptile Park also notes that saltwater crocodiles, locally known as "salty," can propel themselves up to speeds of 18 kilometers per hour.
These huge reptiles live among the river mouths, mangrove swamps, and coastal marshes across Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory where the Corroboree billabong is located. Strictly carnivorous, saltwater crocodiles eat almost any animal that gets to close.
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