Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus

Photo © Brandon Sideleau
Dark Green = Present, Orange = Extinct

Distribution (see below for detailed information)
Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (possibly), Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Israel (Extinct), Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)

4-5 meters; exceptional individuals may reach 5.5 meters

Human-crocodile conflict; human population growth & expansion; habitat destruction; pollution; unregulated hunting; retaliatory killings

Notes on Human-Crocodile Conflict
The Nile crocodile is likely responsible for hundreds of human deaths annually, but accurate estimates are difficult to come by due to data deficiency in many countries. In some countries, local authorities keep records of the numbers of incidents, but do not collect details (thus they cannot be included in this database), while in many other countries no records are kept at all.  

Detailed Distribution

Appears to be widely distributed but status is unclear. Known locations include the Okavango and Cunene rivers. The Catumbela and Cubal rivers, the Dande River of Bengo, Cuito River of Cuando Cubango, Sendi Dam/River in Huila, Lucala River of Kwanza Norte, and the Lufupa, Lemege and Zambezi rivers of Moxico. Attacks on humans are common.

Found in the northern portion of the country in the Okvanago Delta, the Thamalakane and Boteti rivers near Maun, and the Chobe River. It is even found further south along the Boteti River into Central District. Its is also found in the Limpopo River in the southwest of the country bordering South Africa and the Taung River near Gaborone. The degree to which attacks on humans occur is poorly known, though it does not appear to be as severe a problem as in some neighboring countries.

Present in Lake Tanganyika and the Rusizi River in the west and in Ruvubu National Park in the east. Burundi is famous for a claimed "giant" crocodile dubbed Gustave that is said to have been responsible for around 300 human deaths. As is often the case, there is very little evidence for any of this. Most photos claimed to show Gustave actually show many different crocodiles and none of these individuals appear to be exceptional in size. Investigations into crocodile attacks in Bujumbara, while producing a few viable records, were mostly dead ends. Lastly, surveys of the Rusizi River delta in the mid-2010s revealed sightings of only two crocodiles, both around 2 meters in length.

Little is known regarding the distribution and status of Nile crocodiles in Cameroon. The only information available is one report of a fatal attack in the Dibamba River of Japoma in Douala in 2023.

Central African Republic
While not confirmed, it is possible that the species present and responsible for attacks in the Central African Republic is the Nile crocodile. The location with the most reported incidents was Lake Mbali in Ombello-M'Poko. The frequency and severity of the attacks reported strongly suggest the Nile crocodile.

Congo (Brazzaville)
Little is known regarding the current status of the Nile crocodile in the Republic of Congo. In July of 2003 a very large crocodile was killed near Pointe-Noire and a fatal attack was reported in the Djoue River in Kinsoundi in 2007. There are recent records from the Louna River in Lesio-Louna Wildlife Reserve.

Congo (Kinshasa)
Widely distributed but the status is largely unknown due to a lack of surveys. In the east populations are known from Lake Tanganyika and adjacent waterways (e.g., Lukuga River), Lake Edward and the Semliki River, and the Rusizi River bordering Burundi. Populations are also known from the Kwango River in Popokabaka, Lubilanji/Sankuru River, Mbuji-Mayi River, Lualaba River, Lubudi River, and Lobilo River. Attacks on humans appear to be quite common. Most reports come from along Lake Tanganyika, particularly in the Fizi Territory of South Kivu. It is possible that a significant number of incidents go unreported.

Historically crocodiles were present along the entire length of the Nile River in Egypt, including the delta north of Cairo. A population was also known from Qarun Lake. These populations are believed to have been extirpated by the beginning of the 20th Century. Today the species' Egyptian distribution is restricted to Lake Nasser south of Aswan. Attacks on humans do not appear to be an issue, with the last reported fatality occurring in 1999.

Equatorial Guinea
Nothing is known regarding the status of Nile crocodiles in Equatorial Guinea, assuming the species persists in the country at all.

Though no surveys have been conducted and virtually nothing about the population is known, the species is present along the Setit/Tekeze River bordering the Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia, as well as the Gash River from Sudan (reportedly). Whether any attacks on humans occur in this region is unclear.

Present in many waterways including the Mbuluzi River, Usuthu River, Hlane Nature Reserve, Mkhaya Game Reserve, and more. Attacks appear to be quite rare, though it is possible that they have gone unreported in recent years.

Distributed throughout much of the country, excluding the arid far eastern region. Locations include the Baro River, Obo River, Lake Chamo, and Lake Abaya. A population is also found in the Shabelle River entering from Somalia in the east. In the north the species is found in the Tekeze River in the Tigray and Amhara regions. The crocodiles present in the Awash River and Lake Gemeri are West African crocodiles (C. suchus). The frequency of attacks is unclear, though incidents appear to occur annually along the Baro River in Gambella. According to surveys, attacks in Lake Chamo are uncommon, despite high densities of large crocodiles.

Little is known regarding current status and distribution, though there are recent records from Loango National Park and Iguela Lagoon, as well as inland along the Ogooue River. Attacks on humans appear to be nonexistent, though we cannot be certain.

Israel (Extinct)
Historically present within the Kebara Swamps and the Taninim River near Ma'agan Michael as recently as the late 19th Century.

Widely distributed throughout suitable habitat. Known waterways include the Tana River, Athi River, Mara River, and Kuja River. The species is also found in many dams and lakes including Lake Baringo, Lake Victoria, Lake Moa, Kiambere Dam, and Masinga Dam. Attacks on humans appear to be very frequent in some areas, but a lack of reporting is probably an issue. Known hotspots include the Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Siaya counties of Lake Victoria, Tana River County, and the Athi River in Machakos and Makueni counties.

Historically the species was present throughout much of the country, including inland lakes such as Lake Itasy. Current western waterways include the Mania River, Mahavavy River, Betsiboka River (and its inland tributary the Ikopa River), Mangoky River, and lakes in d'Ankarafantsika National Park (e.g., Lake Ravelobe). In the north the species can be found in Lake Antanavo, Lake Vert/Andranotsara, and many other areas. East coast localities include the Mananara River, Faraony River, Ranomafana River, and Canal des Pangalanes. Attacks on humans are an issue, but reporting is generally lacking.

Present throughout much of the country, particularly in Lake Malawi and many adjacent small rivers, Lake Malombe, and virtually the entire Shire River. Attacks on humans are frequent, though apparently vary significantly by location. Some areas along Lake Malawi are attack hotspots, while others are deemed safe for swimming.

Widely distributed throughout the country in many rivers and lakes, including the Zambezi River, Incomati River, Maputo River, Umbuluzi River, Save River, Licungo River, Monapo River, Pungwe River, Limpopo River, Vanduzi River, Lake Cahora Bassa, Massingir Dam, and eastern Lake Malawi, along with many other areas. Attacks on humans appear to be a serious issue, with many deaths reported every year. The details of most attacks are difficult to come by, but large numbers are reported, possibly some of the most in all of Africa.

Found only in the far northern portion of the country along the border with Angola within the Chobe River, Okavango River, Zambezi River, and the Cunene River, including the Cunene River mouth. Multiple attacks on humans are reported annually.

Locations include several lakes, including Lake Kidogo, Lake Rumira, and Lake Birara. River locations include the Akagera River and Nyabarongo River in Kigali. Attacks appear to be an occasional issue along the Nyabarongo River.

In Somalia crocodiles are predominantly found along two river systems- the Juba and the Shabelle. The remainder of the country is too arid and lacks habitat. Attacks definitely occur, though the frequency is unclear.

South Africa
Found throughout the northeastern portion of the country, predominantly in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Locations include Lake St. Lucia and St. Lucia Estuary, Kruger National Park, Olifants River, Komati River, Sabi River, Crocodile River, and many dams including Rust de Winter Dam, Pongolapoort Dam, Nandoni Dam, Albasini Dam, and Goedertrouw Dam. There are also unclear numbers of crocodiles in North West Province, including the Elands River and in the Taung River along the border with Botswana. An isolated and reintroduced population is present at Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape Province, representing the southernmost population. Attacks, particularly deaths, are far less common in South Africa than in other parts of the species' range.

South Sudan
The species is present in many areas, including the White Nile River, the Sudd Wetlands, the Lol and Koleng rivers of Twic County, and the Tonj River. A recent study revealed cases of attacks on humans within the Sudd Wetlands.

Predominantly present along the Nile River, with recent records of attacks from along the river at Wadi Halfa, Karary, and even in Khartoum itself. Along the Blue Nile an attack has recently been reported at Guenis.

Widespread and present in many areas, including Lake Victoria, Mara River, Mgeta River, Ruvuma River, Ruhuhu River, Rufiji River, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Rukwa, and Mtera Dam. Attacks on humans are very common, though it has been confirmed that many go unreported.

Widely distributed throughout most of the country including the Nile River and numerous lakes including Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake George, Lake Kyoga, and Lake Victoria. Attacks are frequent in many areas and numerous incidents likely go unreported, particularly those that are non-fatal.

Present in many parts of the country including Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River, Kafue River, Luangwa River, and Manyinga River. Lakes and dams include Itezhi-Tezhi Dam, Lake Bangweulu, and Lake Tanganyika. Attacks are very frequent, particularly along Lake Kariba. While the reporting of attacks is much more consistent in Zambia than in many other sub-Saharan countries, though it is likely that many still go unreported.

Bordering Zambia, populations are also found along the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba. Other locations include rivers such as the Sabi, Angwa River, Hunyani River, Runde River, and Chivake River. Lakes include Lake Chivero and Biri Dam. Also like Zambia, attacks are very frequent and reporting is better than in many other areas.