The rest of the afternoon passed without further incident. I saw no more of the croc but I knew it was hiding in the reeds waiting for me to try an escape again. I had no intention of giving it the satisfaction though I sorely needed food and water.
I couldn’t believe that no other hikers had come along. In desperation I looked around at the branches once more searching for one both long enough and with a suitable hook or fork to it that I could use to somehow reach my pack and pull it up into the tree but there were none that I could break off with hands. My strength was nearly gone now from the lack of fuel for my body.
I had only my camera to keep me amused and as the golden hour approached I looked about for scenes to capture. In the hour before sunset things began to get interesting. A flock of Ibis appeared flying over the edge of the lake and chose to land not far from my tree. I couldn’t believe my luck.
They were full-grown adults, magnificent creatures. They were snowy white and graceful with an impressive wingspan as they glided in for a landing. They stood near the water’s edge for some time looking about. Occasionally they would lift their long graceful hooked beaks and look up at the sky.
I set about taking photos of them, thankful that I had a telephoto zoom lens attached for close-ups. A couple of them began wading in the shallow water at the edge of the lake. As they did it occurred to me what was likely to happen next. Sure enough, a few minutes later a drama unfolded.
The beast had indeed been lurking in the reeds and had made his way closer to the birds. His stealth was impressive. I hadn’t seen him closing in, and neither had his prey. All at once he exploded out of the water and landed amongst the hapless Ibis that had ventured in. His jaws clamped onto the neck of one while his tail knocked two others unconscious all in one move.
I watched in horror as he feasted on them, firing off as many shots as I could. There was blood everywhere and the remaining birds took off into the blue without a backward look. When he was done with his meal he turned and swam back into the reeds, leaving blood and entrails in his wake, which washed up on the shore.
I sat in the tree shaking with both excitement and fear. The sun was beginning to set so I turned to recording the sunset to calm my nerves and take my mind off the carnage I had witnessed.
As the light faded I had a quick look at the shots I had taken of the attack. They were magnificent. I would be able to get a good price for them if I survived my ordeal and made it back to civilization.
With the excitement over and the stars beginning to appear in the sky my attention returned to my thirst and hunger. I wondered if it would be possible to make an escape now that the croc had secured a meal, but I decided it would be foolish to find out. Three birds probably didn’t do much to sate his hunger, and in the darkness I would have trouble seeing his rapid approach if he came after me. I resigned myself to another night in the tree and began to pray that someone would come along the next day and provide me with salvation.
An hour or so later I was beginning to doze off when the night air was rent by a blood-curdling sound. I was alert at once and though I had never heard the sound before I knew it could only be one thing, and that it could be very bad for me.
Tomorrow – Part 6 – The End