Crocodiles, Silent killers, How they help environment? Part 2

Order Crocodilia is classified into three different families.

1. True crocodiles

These are the most powerful and ferocious species of order Crocodilia of which about 14 species have been discovered so far.  They are found in Africa, in some parts of South America,  Asia, India, and tropical islands such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam etc. They are also found in Pakistan.

a. Nile crocodile

African Nile Crocodile is quite famous for its jaw power which is about 5000psi, more than cat family and canines. This means that if you put your hand into the jaw of a crocodile and the crocodile chews it with all its force, the physics of it will be like someone is cutting your hand from both sides with a sharp saw of 2500 kg. Now think what would happen to your hand!

It also has a reputation as a vicious man-eater and almost 300 people are killed by these crocodiles every year in Africa. People often approach waters that are inhabited by crocodiles so become prey to these monsters. Along with crocodiles, hippos and otters are also found in these waters but they live in groups that’s why it is difficult for crocodiles to attack them.

Crocodiles are infamous carnivores, but they do not live on meat alone and are often found to snack on fruit as well. On the scarcity of food, they often turn to cannibalistic mode of life and eat each other.

b. Saltwater crocodile

The saltwater crocodile is the largest crocodile in the world and the second largest crocodile with respect to its jaw power of 3700 psi as compared to the jaw power of a lion which is 640 psi. These crocodiles are found in India, tropical countries and Australia.  The largest recorded saltwater crocodile to date was Lolong from the Philippines, which measured 20 feet in length and 1000 kg in weight. Crocodile grows throughout its life and its size depends upon the availability of food.

TOPSHOT – In this photograph taken on March 4, 2018 Sajjad Burfat (R), the custodian of sacred crocodiles, feeds frankinsense-smoked meat to a crocodile next to a pond at the shrine of Sufi Hasan-al-Maroof Sultan Manghopir, during the Sheedi Mela or crocodiles festival, on the outskirts of Karachi. For many Sheedis, the swampy crocodile shrine to Sufi saint Haji Syed Shaikh Sultan — more popularly known as Mangho Pir — is the most potent symbol of their shared African past, as they struggle to uncover the trail that led their ancestors to Pakistan. / AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN / TO GO WITH Pakistan-religion-Sheedi-crocodiles-African,FEATURE by Ashraf KHAN

(in Manghu peer shrine, Pakistan. People are feeding mugger crocodiles to take blessings)

c. Mugger crocodile:

It is also found in Pakistan and distributed in Sindh mainly. It inhabits marshes, rivers lakes, and artificial ponds and is also found in coastal saltwater lagoons. It is a skilled predator and like other crocodilians waits for prey to come close. Crocodile species are distinguished on the basis of their teeth, weight, and size.

2. Alligators and Caiman

Alligators are of two types

a. American alligator

b. Chinese alligator

American alligators are larger than Chinese and both have jaw power less than crocodiles. The jaw power of the American alligator is 3000psi and it feeds on varieties of food but is not as dangerous as crocodiles.

Caiman is found in South America. It is smaller than crocodiles and alligators but is a fast swimmer with eyes present slightly higher on its face, and long pointed teeth which differentiate it from other members of the order Crocodilia. In  South America, the world’s largest river the Amazon flows and many small rivers join it.  Due to this river, swamps, freshwater lakes, and seasonal lakes have come into existence. This region also receives high rainfall, such an area is a favourable habitat for caiman.  It feeds on fish and other small animals and itself is eaten by otters and jaguars. It has six other species.

3. Gharials

Gharials are found in India, Nepal and Malaysia (1 species). They are distinguished by their long and pointed snout.  Once it was found in Pakistan but now got extinct in this region. Their population is also endangered in India. Their mouth has about 110 teeth which are meant to feed on fishes and other small animals.


How to survive a crocodile’s attack?

If they’ve got hold of you, the only possible way you can fight back is poking their eyes. This is a common tactic used by zebra to survive its attack. Besides this, the other most vulnerable areas are the nostrils and throat. As we know Crocodiles have a flap of skin that keeps water out of their throat. If crocodile attacks you then try to pull this flap down.  In this way, it will release you.

How crocodiles help Environment :

If all crocodiles were to be wiped out from the world, many birds, fish and land animals would also be wiped out.  Because crocodiles are mostly found in stagnant water i.e. lakes etc. where they keep the water clean by eating the bones and other remains of dead animals.  Secondly, by eating much large fish, they give the chance for small fish to grow.  They also take out piles of mud from the water with their feet so that they can lie on it and sunbathe.  At the same time, much small fish also come out with soil and become source of food for the birds and other animals.

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