HARARE – A 90-year-old tourist was killed and another tourist left on life support when crocodiles attacked them as they paddled an inflatable boat in Zimbabwe’s Matopos National Park, a parks official said on Friday.
John Bowman, 90, and Rosemary Mitchell, 65, were canoeing at Mpopoma Dam, a known crocodile hotspot, when their boat was attacked, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told Reuters. Bowman and Mitchell are both Zimbabwean.
“The crocodiles attacked the air-pumped boat they were using until it punctured. Their colleagues noticed that they were struggling and drove to seek help,” Farawo said. “When the park rangers arrived at the dam, Bowman and Mitchell were still under attack from the crocodiles.”
Crocodile attacks are common in parts of rural Africa south of the equator. They spike around this time of the year when hatchlings emerge and females leave their nests, which they have guarded without eating for three months.
“The rangers had to shoot at the crocodiles to disperse them and rescue the two and take them to hospital where Bowman died before arrival. Mitchell has life-threatening injuries and remains in intensive care unit in Bulawayo,” Farawo said.
Crocodiles typically grab their prey by a limb and spin them in a “death roll” which subdues the victim by drowning.