Mother Croc Education Worksheet

Video highlights from Mother Croc

Upper Primary and Junior Secondary

Mother Croc Education Worksheet

SCHOOL LEVEL
Upper Primary and Junior Secondary


EDUCATION DESCRIPTION: Mother Croc
In Africa's Serengeti, the Nile crocodile is the dominant predator. Hunting with an efficiency honed over millions of years, these reptiles move through the Grumeti River waters with grace and power. This documentary portrays Nile crocodiles not only as successful predators, but also as caring parents: crocodile mothers must guard their nests for more than three months. To protect their eggs from numerous thieves, such as the giant Nile monitor, the crocodile mothers enlist the aid of their neighbours – nesting curlews known as thick-knees – that share the same marshy habitat. Once the baby crocodiles have hatched, their mothers carry them gently to the water. This documentary tracks the trials and tribulations of a first-time crocodile mother, and includes sensational, high-speed, predator-prey images, along with first-ever recordings of fascinating behavioral aspects of Nile monitors.

TEACHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Africa's Serengeti is a World Heritage site, famed for its biodiversity and its spectacular annual migration, when some million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras and Thomson's gazelle thunder across the open plains in search of fresh grazing. Along the way, the animals must run the gauntlet of crocodile-infested rivers, where some inevitably succumb to one of the world's most efficient hunters – the Nile crocodile.


Nile crocodiles are the largest of Africa's three crocodile species, their form being unchanged for some 200 million years. These fearsome predators have a fascinating life cycle, the females being devoted, protective mothers. Nile crocodiles mostly feed on fish, however during the annual migration, migrating mammals drink from the river, triggering tiny sensors on the crocodiles' heads. Now is the time for crocodiles to gorge and build reserves that will last for the rest of the year.


During the breeding season, males stake out a flat, sandy territory along the riverside, which they must defend from rivals. Such territories offer the best chances for mating, the males advertising their readiness with splashy shows in the water. Male crocodiles mate with several females over the next few months, choosing the biggest females first.
Follow the fascinating story of a novice crocodile mother, who unwisely chooses a solitary nest site, and must fight a constant stream of invaders. Torn between her guardian role, and seeking shelter from the dry season's relentless heat, the crocodile suffers ongoing threats for three months.


By contrast, the crocodiles that have chosen a group nesting site have a much higher breeding success rate. Here, perfectly camouflaged nesting curlews intimidate marauding Nile monitors and in turn enjoy the crocodiles' protection from hippopotamus and other visitors.  


By September's end the rains return, replenishing the Grumeti River, while October heralds the persistent calls of crocodile hatchlings. Under the cover of night, crocodile mothers dig to help free their young, lifting them from the nest with surprising gentleness before carefully carrying the tiny crocodiles to the safety of the river.


CURRICULUM POINTERS

Upper Primary Curriculum
Geography is the investigation and understanding of the earth and its features and the distribution of life on earth, including human life and its impacts. It is the study of the many different “places”, or environments, which make up our world and is described as “the why of where”. Places are specific areas of the Earth’s surface, and can range from a locality to a country to a major world region.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011: Introduction


In addition to its practical applications, learning science is a valuable pursuit in its own right, providing opportunities for critical and creative thinking, challenge and leisure. The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to experience the joy of scientific discovery and to nurture students’ natural curiosity about the world around them. These ideas resonate with the concept of scientific literacy, a term that is well established in the science education literature.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale


Junior Secondary Curriculum
Geography teaching nurtures students’ curiosity about places and the differences between them. It responds to their wonder about the world and its diversity, and teaches them how to explore this world directly through field work and indirectly through other types of investigation. It develops a geographical imagination that enables students to relate to other places and people, and to appreciate the cultures and perspectives of others.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011: Introduction

The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

 

CURRICULUM OUTCOMES
 

Upper Primary
In undertaking these tasks, students of geography will:
•    develop a sense of wonder, curiosity, knowledge and interest about the variety of environments, peoples, cultures and places that exist throughout the world
•    gain a good understanding of geographical thinking including its perspectives, concepts and ways of explaining
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011: Aims

In undertaking these tasks, students of science will:
•    develop an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live
•    develop an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims

Junior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of geography will:
•    become thoughtful and active local, national and global citizens, and … understand how they can influence the futures of places
•    develop [their] ability to ask geographical questions, plan an inquiry, collect and analyse information, … reach conclusions based on evidence and logical reasoning, and communicate their findings in effective ways.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011: Aims

In undertaking these tasks, students of science will develop:
•    An ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    An ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aimsdd


STUDENT LEARNING TASKS
 

Upper Primary

Task 1
Go to the following web site: http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps
Click on the map of Africa to enlarge it, then download it and save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook. On your map:
•    Highlight the country of Tanzania
•    Highlight the Serengeti
•    Highlight the Grumeti River where it passes through Tanzania

Task 2
In 50 words, describe the Nile crocodile's Grumeti River habitat. Then name five other animals with which it shares this habitat, mentioning whether each of these five animals:
•    is crocodile prey
•    preys on the crocodiles' eggs and/or hatchlings
•    lives entirely independently of the Nile crocodile.

Task 3
Nile crocodiles are one of Africa's most feared hunters. Name five characteristics that have earned them this reputation. Then do some Internet research to find out the following facts about Nile crocodiles:
•    Average length when fully grown
•    Average weight when fully grown
•    Average life span
•    Average age at which reproduction begins
•    Average size of nests
•    Average number of eggs per clutch

Task 4
In 50 words describe the behaviour of a male crocodile that is getting ready to mate. Then write another 50 words to describe the behaviour of a female crocodile that is defending her nest.

Task 5
Draw a timeline for the Grumeti River from January to December as it relates to Nile crocodiles. Shade the dry season months in red and the wet season months in blue and write a bullet point description of the crocodile's life during each month.


Junior Secondary

Task 1
Go to the following web site:
http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps
Click on the map of Africa to enlarge it, then download it and save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook.  On your map:
•    Highlight the country of Tanzania
•    Circle the capital city of Tanzania
•    Highlight the Serengeti
•    Highlight the Grumeti River from source to mouth
•    Circle the Grumeti River where it passes through Tanzania

Task 2
The annual migration of herbivores across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is one of nature's greatest spectacles. Do some Internet research to find out the following information about the migration:

•    Which animals are involved
•    Where they come from
•    Where they are going to
•    Why they are migrating
•    The time of year
•    Approximately how far they travel each season

Task 3
Name five physical and five behavioural characteristics of the Nile crocodile that have helped make it one of Africa's most fearsome predators.

Task 4
In 150 words compare the advantages and disadvantages faced by a crocodile that chooses to nest alone with those of crocodiles that choose to nest together in the same territory.

Task 5
Do some Internet research to find out the extent of the Nile crocodile's range in Africa, the estimated total population of Nile crocodiles, and three threats they face.
 

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit