The Man Eating Croc
1974, Hembarewa off Mahiyanganaya was a prison for captured JVP insurgents. I was sent there to guard the location – 1 platoon. We had a lot of crocs in that area because the Mahaweli River was just across and we used to go there for bathing and things.
One day we got information saying that a girl has been taken away by a crocodile. And the girl happened to be the postmaster’s daughter who was to get married in another 2 weeks’ time. So by that time the police had come and the GA issued an order to kill the crocodile; because it’s a protected animal you can’t kill otherwise. So it was days and days of vigil in the night. Villagers had tied dogs on the banks of the Mahaweli, some had put meat with hooks, chains into the river but nothing happened for about 14 days. So they gave up.
Then one day we got information to say that the bulldozer operator who was cutting a road from Hembarewa to Welikanda side had been attacked by a crocodile and was admitted to the Mahiyanganaya Hospital. I immediately rushed to the hospital to find out what had happened. He was badly injured. His right shoulder downwards upto the right knee had been torn apart and the knee cap had come out. So I was able to talk to him and he said after bathing, he went to wash his clothes with the bucket. He finished and when he turned he saw a huge crocodile coming with his mouth open. The crocodile had come from the land, he was not in the water. He stays inside the bushes and then attacks. In utter fear he had shoved the bucket into the crocodile’s mouth. That saved him. I found the bucket also and it was just crushed. A Galvanized Iron bucket – just crushed. And I asked him what is the size of the fellow? He was in pain but he said, have you seen my dozer? I said no. He said, it’s a D6. And the size of the fellow was the size of the blade of a D6 – so big. But we never got him.
The story is that the crocodile has to have his tail touch the bottom when they are attacking. In deep water they can’t attack as such. This modus operandi – coming from the bushes – no one expects that. Whereas in the water you may be able to see the fellow when he surfaces. The D6 dozer blade is about 3.5 feet tall and this was the size of the crocodile’s body.
A tale related by Retd. Brig. Vipul Botejue which took place when he was a Lieutenant in the Sri Lanka Army.