There exists a global controversy about the roles and relationships naturalists should have with the subjects they study. Thus, my story about Mama Croc:
While submerged up to my neck in river water building a dock, I noticed six little lizards twenty feet away along the bank. Staring at these little lizards I noticed these were indeed crocodiles. My first thoughts at that moment were, Where's Mama and am I gonna get killed? Mama is a wild Croc living in the river system that feeds our property. She was here before us with no known contact with humans. She nests along our shores, has her babies in the protection of the river channel always watching. Over the last 6 years, a number of stunning events have transpired between Mama and myself.
For the first year she had nothing to do with Cherie and me in any way. As I studied Mama, it became apparent she was studying me. Although very shy and reserved at first, she slowly began to expose her behaviors to me. She finally one day accepted us as part of her domain.
After more than a year of the two of us studying each other, I decided to take the next step. I slap the water with my arm in somewhat of an aggressive manner and Mama raced to me at the waters edge where I stood my ground. After realizing I meant no harm, she lazily swam back to her young.
Then, one day while watching her basking in the mangrove, I noticed her shaking her head against the branches to ward of doctor flies. I approached her gingerly with a stick in hand and began to slowly caress her head, clearing the flies from her eyes. She appeared to enjoy the contact. And, she now allows me to pet her by hand.
Now years have past and our trust and respect for each other has grown. While I cannot share all the life stories we share I can assure you I respect the fact that in a second she could change. I know her well enough by her behavioral signs when she wants my attention and I am safe, or when to leave her space.