Assumption 4: No organism could be found or conceived at the top of the food pyramid at the transition of land and water, which causes less suffering to its potential and actual prey, and restrict their free development less, than the Saltwater crocodile.
That the Saltwater crocodile is a “most gentle hunter” might sound strange at first sight. But with systematic reflection also this assumption can be verified on a very broad and stable basis, consisting of three main components. The first of these is already covered by the verification for assumption 3 (ecological harmony): because the smallest possible disturbances of the weaker animals recognized thereby and the even beyond that going positive effects on their existence extend finally also on the existence of all animals that are potential prey of the saltwater crocodile – and therefore this is clearly corresponding with the behaviour of a most gentle hunter.
The second component, on the other hand, results from the characteristics of the extreme speed of the attack and the killing, which has been proven in assumption 1 (Absolute apex predator). On average, this leads to a very rapid dying process, and thus as little suffering as possible of actual prey animals. This also clearly corresponds to the characteristics of the methods of a most gentle hunter.
The third component can be found also in practically all scientific descriptions of the basic characteristics of the species, namely that the Saltwater crocodile and all its close relatives are highly specialized ambush hunters, or as I like to call it, “surprise hunters”. This also fits to the concept of the most gentle hunter, as in the average for the prey there is hardly any time for fear before the dying occurs.
How these three components work together in practice is something I have observed, among other things, in the capturing of a larger pig. The latter, unlike the more cautious of the species, had gone out of its group to the water’s edge at a river bend, and walked into the water while digging. All of a sudden, in the best sense of the word, there was an explosive tumult with considerable water spray and loud noises. But when this restlessness had subsided, after little more than five seconds, the pig was gone.
There was nothing left to indicate what had just happened here. The pig’s existence was thus determined by the free development of its being until the very quick event, and death came so quickly and surprisingly that it hardly perceived any suffering or pain at all. This does not mean that there are not also constellations in which a smaller crocodile needs a longer time to kill larger prey. But on average, nothing changes in their orientation towards the fastest possible course of events in the acquisition of relatively large prey.
Not only on the Shore, but also in the Ocean the Saltwater Crocodile proofs to be a most gentle Hunter
It should be taken into account that Saltwater Crocodiles not only take bigger land animals as prey. Rather, according to my own observations as well as documented examinations of the stomachs of dead specimens, for much of their life times, fish and mud crabs (which weigh up to three kilograms) often account for the predominant share.
I would like to show now that with completely different hunting methods, the same orientation of the Saltwater Crocodile becomes clearly recognizable, in the sense of assumption 4. One of these methods which can be observed particularly frequently is that crocodiles dive into shallow water, preferably between flanking rocks all the way to the bottom and remain there, motionless, with their mouths slightly open.
If fish or crabs come across the rocks or the body of the reptile, they will not recognize any danger in these obstacles. They do not flee, but swim along the obstacle. As soon as they get within reach of the crocodile’s mouth, which is surrounded by very sensitive sensory organs, the crocodile snaps shut at quasi lightning speed. This moment cannot be shown photographically, but I can testify that the visible jerk is similar as fast as a surprise attack by the European pike (Esox lucius) , the course of which can only be seen in slow motion.
Immediately after snapping, which most likely will already lead to the death or unconsciousness of the fish or crab, the crocodile raises its head out of the water to let the water run out of its mouth and swallow the prey (picture above). When I myself observed these processes for the first time, I did not understand what the crocodiles were doing between the rocks. Only later did I recognize that they swallowed something again and again.
Later, with more experience, I was able to observe them for hours during the day and at night in the bright moonlight, performing this kind of hunting. In the end, it became apparent that it is again the case that prey are transported from a freely unfolding life to death with such speed and suddenness that a further reduction of the suffering resulting from this is inconceivable. Again, this confirms the position of a most gentle hunter.
Another frequent hunting method is slow, submerged prowling along the beach (picture). It should be noted here that I have never seen crocodiles – although they can swim very quickly – chasing potential prey. There might be something like this from time to time. But their method of stripping the shore is mainly about finding crabs and fish that are weak or have already washed up dead. The ecological function of the “health police” (see also chapter ecological harmony) is thus easily recognizable, and it becomes clear why there is almost never a sick or suffering fish to be found on a coastline populated by a healthy population of crocodiles and sharks.
These two peaks of the food pyramids of their mutually overlapping habitats thus provide a kind of downward protection, keeping the structure as free as possible from prolonged infirmity. The fact that this is, again, an indirect effect does not detract from this statement. Crocodiles and sharks are very efficient. For the shark, there are striking similarities in the evolutionary stability of the life form, as well as the least possible disturbance of the other animals and positive effects in favor of them.
The free Animals’ Fear of Predators is an Illusion of Humans who are Alien to Nature
Finally, I would like to briefly discuss an illusion around the natural processes of hunting between different animal species in order to feed themselves, which is sometimes very strongly fixed in the world view of people whose distance to nature has become particularly great. The illusion manifests itself in the concrete imagination in which the potential prey must be constantly afraid of being captured and eaten by a predator. This can be proven by statements on the internet, to such an extent that an assumption arises in which the entire existence of free animals in nature essentially consists of fear, as well as hunger, cold, infirmity and so on. In reality , however, we see only free, healthy and fearless animals, except for a tiny fraction.
Why these illusions, which are far removed from reality, exist at all will become clear in the reflection that follows. I myself have experienced situations in which I moved into the reach of a crocodile, lurking for prey while hunting and collecting, due to my own carelessness, only recognizing the danger at the last moment. In fact, it was a big shock each time. This vanished fast, however, and led to an adjustment of my own behavior , in order not to make the same mistake again. This is the cognitive and similarly evolutionary reason why the supposed fear of the predator in nature little exists, as is the case with city dwellers and the no-less-dangerous car, or with a passionate motorcyclist facing bends in the road. The free animals’ permanent fear of predators exists only in the minds of people who are alienated from nature, not in reality. This is quite an important issue to understand.
Assumption 4 is hereby solidly confirmed. The proof of assumption 3, the speed of killing during a capture and the high specialization as ambush or surprise hunter, again lets a round picture develop, which would be impossible to refute with facts. There is no place in the mechanical sense of this picture in which the damage and suffering of the prey could be further reduced. The Saltwater crocodile is the most gentle hunter possible on top of the biological food pyramid.
With this fourth statement, the existence of the alleged overall context should now be proven. This is reflected upon in the following: