Arba Minch, Ethiopia: A crocodile has killed a Protestant pastor who was baptising followers near a lake in southern Ethiopia. Pastor Docho Eshete was conducting the ceremony for about 80 people on Sunday around 4 pm local time, at Lake Abaya in Arba Minch town’s Merkeb Tabya district – some five hundred kilometers to the south west of the capital Addis Ababa.
Residents and police told reporters that a crocodile leapt from the water during the baptism and attacked him.
Pastor Docho died after being bitten on his legs, back and hands.
“He baptised the first person and he passed on to another one. All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor,” local resident Ketema Kairo said.
Despite huge efforts, fishermen and residents could not save pastor Docho, policeman Eiwnetu Kanko said.
They used fishing nets to prevent the crocodile from taking the pastor’s body into the lake.
The crocodile escaped.
Local media said members of the church were left devastated by the attack and reported it widely on social media. Lake Abaya, which covers an area of 1,162 square kilometers is known for its significant crocodile population. Lake and riverside baptisms are common in many African countries, the risks notwithstanding.
Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is said to be beautiful, but it has a large population of crocodiles, which are said to be aggressive towards people and animals because the lake has few fish, their preferred food.
It is likely that the reptile that killed Pastor Docho was a Nile Crocodile. Some Nile Crocodiles can grow to be up to six metres (20ft) long while weighing as much as 1,000kg (1 ton), and some estimates suggest the species is responsible for more than 300 attacks on humans in Africa every year.
It is thought to be responsible for more attacks on people than any other crocodile species, and it has been said that the Nile Crocodile causes the third highest number of large-animal-related human fatalities in Africa, after hippos and lions.
One study has noted that for the Nile Crocodile, “an opportunistic, ambush predator”, humans are “less powerful and slower in water than any similar-sized wild mammal and therefore easy prey.”