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Slide Kruger park day safari South African Tourism Award Tripadviser-reviews 1428 Reviews

Brave Trail Guide Escapes Crocodile Encounter in Kruger National Park

It was not the way that Mark Montgomery thought his day would play out when he was savagely pulled into the murky waters of the Metsi Metsi River in the Kruger National Park by an opportunistic croc. 

But in a tale that is sure to become a part of the Kruger’s legendary stories of man’s encounters with the wildlife of Africa, Montgomery survived to tell of his incredible ordeal. 

Crocodiles are not by their nature known to go after any old prey, and since Montgomery has been a wildlife trail guide since 1998 and has come across all sorts of dangerous animals in the past almost 30 years that he’s been in the industry, he was not expecting what happened on that fateful day. 

The incredible incident took place during a guided trail walk when the group reached the fifth part of the Kruger Trail and they stopped next to the river. Montgomery leaned down towards the water to take a scoop and when he returned for the third time, he spotted the crocs head lurking just beneath the surface. 

Crocodile Kruger National Park safaris

He told the South Coast Herald, ‘I looked and the crocodile’s head was dead still under the surface. There wasn’t even a ripple or anything. I think I pulled my hand back. If I hadn’t, it would have gotten my arm. The part from seeing the head to realising I’m in the water myself, is not even in my brain. It was that fast. It is literally, he grabs my hand and you hear the water.’ 

Montgomery didn’t have a moment to think, as he went from moving hovering on the shoreline to being submerged. One of the hikers in the group jumped in after him, but the crocodile was just too fast, and swiftly pulled Montgomery into deeper waters, sure to being a death roll. 

With his hand firmly clutched in the crocs mouth, he reached around with his free hand and tried to push his fingers into the creatures eyes. He also tried to pry the animals mouth open while also doing his best to halt the attack as much as he could. 

Suddenly the crocodile went one way, and he moved in the opposite direction, causing the animal to release his hand. 

Montgomery said, ‘At that moment I lurched to the surface. The bank was about 1.6 m away. I lunged and lunged and grabbed the roots of a stunted jackalberry on the other side. In the meantime, I’m picturing this crocodile grabbing me from the back into the water. I lurched so strongly, I partially tore my right hamstring; the left one is bruised.’

He managed to get to himself out of the water and eventually made his way back to the other hikers, where he lay down under the trees and waited for first responders. His assistant guide phoned for help and Montgomery was transported to Skukuza and later on he was transferred to Nelspruit Mediclinic. 

The injuries were not as bad as they could have been, but he needed have 3 surgeries to repair the damage, with pins and plates need to save his hand. So far he has no infection. 

Although it was quite the experience, it hasn’t dampened his passion and love for the wild. And instead of dipping his hand into the river the next time he is thirsty, Montgomery says he’ll use a bucket and rope in future. 

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