A man who managed to fight off four crocodiles after he fell into a pond at a sewage farm in Zimbabwe believes he may have killed one of them.
Alexander Chimedza, from Nyamunga in Kariba, was trying to collect worms to use as fishing bait and, as he put his hand into a clump of weeds to look for some, he was grabbed by a waiting croc.
“The crocodiles must have been waiting for me because the moment I just touched the weeds, I was attacked,” he said.
“First, one of them tried to grab my left hand, but I instinctively dodged, but another one grabbed my right hand.”
Alexander was pulled into the murky water, where one of the crocodiles tried to kill him with the notorious “death roll” manoeuvre.
“I realised that my hand would break if I resisted,” he told All Africa,
“So, I allowed my hand to go in the direction it turned.”
A third beast latched onto Alexander’s thigh and a fourth croc joined in the feeding frenzy, biting his ankle and destroying his achilles tendon.
Luckily some of Alexander’s fishing buddies were nearby and they tried to help out, pelting the crocodiles with rocks.
Meanwhile, Alexander was trying to get his hand into one of the crocodiles’ throats. Crocodiles have a “palatal valve” that prevents water from flooding their stomachs when they dive.
While experts recommend going for the croc’s eyes if you are bitten, an attack on the palatal valve is an effective last resort.
“As I thrust my hand into the crocodile’s mouth, some of the stones that were being thrown from outside must have hit the crocodile,” Alexander said.
“That, coupled with the large volumes of water that flowed into its mouth must have led to its death because it let me go and I saw it seeming lifeless afterward.”
After he had managed to shrug off the crocodile that had hold of his arm, Alexander made his way closer to the bank where his mates were able to pull him to safety.
By a lucky coincidence, an ambulance was passing by and the group managed to flag it down so Alexander could be taken to Mutenderi Hospital, just across the Zambian border.
He underwent emergency surgery, having five metal plates inserted into his body to help knit his broken bones. Most of them will be removed once the bones are healed but one, a platinum plate in his shoulder, will be a permanent reminder of his lucky escape.
He had numerous other procedures during his 40-day hospital stay, including extensive reconstructive surgery on his achilles tendon.
Alexander has now returned home, where his wife Primrose is looking after him while he tries to regain his mobility.
Very few people will be able to boast that they were set upon by four crocodiles and survive, and to successfully fight one to the death is a rare and possibly unique achievement.