Fisherman Leonard Tichareva is lucky to be alive. The brave fisherman was wading in shallow waters at the edge of Lake Chivero, when a huge crocodile sneaked up on him.
From his hospital bed at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Tichareva this week recounted how he survived the attack.
“When I got into the waters, I wanted to clear the weeds first before laying my nets. In trying to remove the weeds, the crocodile turned on me,” said the fisherman.
“I screamed for help and poked its eyes,” said Tichareva. “My friends came over and pulled me. That is how I survived,”
A week later evidence of the ferociousness of the attack remains — the fisherman’s arm and upper body were still in bandages.
“I will get back to the waters if I recover because that is my way of survival. There is no other way I can survive,” said Tichareva.
In recent weeks crocodile attacks have increased and at least eight fishermen have been eaten by the creatures. National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials confirm the deaths, but say no remains have been recovered.
The attack on Tichareva has left his family in a lurch. His wife Violet Panganai said: “Things are not well.”
“This is month-end the landlord expects his rent, but since my husband is in hospital, I don’t know how I will survive,” she said.
The Parks authorities were aware of the problems fishermen were facing at the lake, but they were reluctant to get involved. Privately, officials say the fishermen were poachers because they do not have licences to fish at the lake.
Norton, about 40km out of Harare is a small town that has few jobs. Fishing is the only alternative means of earning a living for many people.
Like Tichareva, many other fishermen in the area say it is a matter of “life and death”. If they do not fish, their families will go hungry.
Another fisherman, Joseph Gomo, (32) of Katanga, who survived a crocodile attack said: “I have been in the fishing industry for close to 15 years now, but since I was attacked last year, life has changed for the worse.”