A ZIMBABWEAN holiday- maker has been killed by a 14ft-long crocodile at the Lake Kariba tourist resort in the north-west of the country.
Retired schools administrator Mac Bailey, who is believed to have been in his 60s, was dragging his yacht up the banks of the lake near Gache Gache Lodge on Sunday afternoon when the reptile lunged out of the water at him.
Lodge owner Pat Townsend said Mr Bailey’s wife, Jenny, was on the yacht and witnessed the attack.
Police and rangers were sent to the scene and a team was dispatched to find the crocodile. The creature was shot and Mr Bailey’s body was recovered that night.
Ms Townsend told The Scotsman: “He’d jumped off the boat. He was probably just trying to pull it in a little higher. He may have had one foot in the water. It’s just really bad luck. My ex-son-in-law is a professional guide. He was at the lodge that day and he helped recover the body.”
The attack happened near Bird Island on Lake Kariba.
An 180-mile long man-made dam is a major resort for fishing, boating and game viewing. Kariba is well-known for its hippotamus population and for the spectacular sunset vistas it provides. The branches of long-dead trees emerge eerily from the lake waters.
Largely deserted during the dark years of Zimbabwe’s 2000-9 economic and political crisis, visitors have been returning to Kariba in the past few years, only to find that the crocodiles there have become more dangerous.
The killing of Mr Bailey was the eighth recorded fatal crocodile attack at the lake since the beginning of the year.
A 34-year-old Kariba resident, Claudius Chimuchocha, was killed by a large crocodile in May.
Rangers later killed the animal and retrieved whole human limbs from its stomach.
The waters around Gache Gache Lodge are popular with tourists and fishermen because the lodge runs a well-publicised anti-poaching programme.
The success of that programme means that the fish in the area are plentiful and thriving but, says Ms Townsend, so are crocodiles.
Locals complain that until recently crocodile farmers released up to 5 per cent of the hatchlings they produced into Lake Kariba, pushing up the crocodile population.
Tourists have also been blamed for feeding crocodiles following houseboats to get close-up photographs of them.