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I had spent twenty years hunting the man-eating crocodiles in the Sabah jungles. The Malaysian crocodile is one of the largest predators found in the murky swift flowing waters of the Batang Lupar and its many tributaries. Although I have encountered them many times on my hunts, the one that attacked me on one of my many excursions upriver that day scared the daylights out of me.

On 5 February, a man had been reported missing on a fishing trip at a longhouse not far from Sri Aman, a bustling trading post along the river. A croc had been spotted by women washing by the river at dawn that fateful day. That day, I roped in experienced Ibans who had volunteered to track it.

Before they arrived, I went to the spot near the banks where the women had spotted the crocodile. I know that the crocodile is a cunning beast that is as unpredictable as it is dangerous. Nevertheless, I wanted to scout for any signs of the crocodile myself. Unarmed and unprepared, that decision turned out to be the worst mistake of my life. I was vulnerable and exposed.

As I wandered along the muddy banks, I spotted what looked like tracks on the exposed banks. The pandan swayed eerily in the dim light of dusk as the nibong palms stood like silent guards. The guttural sounds of the croc caught me unawares as it attacked me with menacing jaws, knocking me off my feet and leaving a gaping wound on my right thigh. Instinctively, I grabbed its head and poked at its eyes causing it to release me in an instance of mortal luck.

Realising that I had to clamber up the sloping banks to survive, I clawed my way up only to be dragged by the croc to the edge of the water. It had caught my left foot. The thought of a painful death on the river bed and being left to rot under a tree trunk brought new vigour to my excruciating cause. I kicked frantically causing my shoe to come loose in its mouth. My cries must have echoed across the vast expanse of the river.

As I clambered over the crest of the dirt mound, the undeterred croc launched a final attack snapping its jaws inches away from my bleeding feet. I was not clear from danger as crocs are known for their short bursts of speed on land. My cries had alerted the party of hunters who had just arrived and as I limped to my feet I saw Kalong, my aide aim his rifle past me.

The croc had breached the bank and was hurtling its 6-metre bulk in an awkward run as the bullet grazed my knee and found its mark on the beast's flank. Another torrent of bullets found their mark as the beast made a final lunge and lay in a heap at my trembling feet.

In retrospect, I think the croc had every reason to attack me. It was hungry and humans had overfished the river, depleting its natural supply of food and probably killed many of its relatives in blind ignorance. I felt pity for it. That was my last encounter with a croc as it made me realise my own mortality. Now, I shoot them with a Minolta camera to preserve a creature that has weathered the centuries of earth's evolution, but might not survive man's arrogant greed and ignorance.

   

Answer the following questions using complete sentences

 

1.

From paragraph 1, in which river of Sabah is the Malaysian crocodile found ?

 

2.

From paragraph 3,

a) name one quality which makes the crocodile a formidable foe.

b) 'Before they arrived, ...'

  (i) Who are they ?

  (ii) What was his worst mistake ?

 

3.

From paragraph 4,

a) what did instinct tell the hunter to do ?

b) which phrase means a chance for survival ?

 

4.

From paragraph 7,

a) the word bulk shows that the crocodile was ?

b) why did the bullet graze his leg ?

 

5.

In your own words, give two reasons why the author felt pity for the crocodile.
 

6.

Based on the passage given, write a summary of :

* how the crocodile attacked the writer, and

* what he did to save himself

Your summary must not be longer than 130 words, including the 10 words given below

As I walked along the banks where the women had ...

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Answers
 

1.

Batang Lupar
 

2.

a) unpredictable/cunning/dangerous

b) (i) The Iban trackers/volunteers/hunters. (ii) being unarmed and unprepared (accept one or both)

 

3.

a) grab its head and poke its eyes

b) mortal luck

 

4.

a) big/huge/ungainly.

b) the croc was behind him/very close to him

 

5.

Man had forced the crocodile to lose its natural prey/habitat/Many other crocodiles had been killed by man in ignorance (accept any logical answer)
  6.

As I walked along the banks where the women had spotted the crocodile, I was unprepared and unarmed for the danger that awaited me. The lurking crocodile attacked me and held me in its menacing jaws. I had to grab its head and poke its eyes to escape its grip. as I struggled to get away up the river bank, it caught my foot and dragged me down again. This time the thought of a painful death gave me renewed strength to fight back. I managed to kick my shoe loose and cried out loud as I made a painful dash to survival. This alerted an aide named Kalong who rushed to my aid. He managed to kill the beast as it pursued me on land.  (126 words)

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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