All or Nothing
A young female crocodile glides through the shallow water. Newly mature, she's set her sights on the largest male on the river. She's risking everything in a bid to have him father her young. He makes the water dance as he attracts older, more desirable females. After days of waiting, her patience pays off … but her ambitious strategy leaves her and her firstborn last in line. Can she beat the odds?
Over 160 million years, these Jurassic survivors have evolved into perfect predators. Equipped like deadly submarines, with specialized weapons of stealth and attack, the armored crocodiles know no equals. To the ancient Egyptians they were river gods. To the migrating wildebeest of the Serengeti they mean abrupt and unforeseen death. To us they reveal another side - as the Lords of Ndumo, a wildlife sanctuary of international importance.
Crocs in the Cold
It takes a special kind of crocodile to thrive in the chill air of southern Africa's subtropical flood plains. Smaller, mating less frequently, they deploy an arsenal of tricks to defeat the cold. (They drop their heartrate to three or four beats a minute to submerge below where the water is warmer.) As the days grow longer, they move to the nearby Pongola and Usutu Rivers. Here jaws snap when males and females ferociously defend their territory, while our pregnant female searches desperately for a safe spot to lay her eggs.
Through her inexperienced eyes we witness the complete cycle of motherhood. After her clutch of 40 eggs hatches, she goes to great lengths to protect the fledglings from the birds, snakes and mongooses that strike. Only a few survive the first year, perhaps only one will reach adulthood, but throughout she displays an unswerving parental instinct not seen in other reptiles.
Up Close and Personal
Danger awaits the juveniles at every turn; they even risk falling prey to cannibalism! In one startling sequence, a hunting female snatches a young croc in her powerful jaws, only to release him at the last moment. In others, the Ndumo crocs demonstrate their unusual tactics; while one blocks the current of a stream, another three form a living fishtrap. In the pans, giant catfish threaten the small fish on which Ndumo's 35 endangered bird species depend. We hold our breath as a croc springs an underwater ambush.
Packed with spectacular footage, both fierce and unexpectedly tender, African River Goddess shows the life of a rare Nile crocodile at close range, above and below the water's surface.