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Group: Crocodile Most Dangerous Animals in Zimbabwe; 13 People Eaten in so far 2005

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HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Crocodiles took a narrow lead over elephants as the most dangerous animal to humans in Zimbabwe this year, a conservation group reported Wednesday.

Crocodiles dragged away and ate 13 people -- including children -- in the first 10 months of 2005, according to the Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources, known as Campfire.

Elephants charged and trampled 12 others, including some villagers trying to protect their crops from the giant herbivores, who eat an average 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of fodder a day as adults, the group said in its annual report.

Buffalo and hippopotamuses, also considered among Africa's most dangerous animals, killed one person apiece.

Lions are reported to have killed 17 cattle belonging to a traditional leader in western Zimbabwe in November, but there were no fatal attacks on humans. Rogue lions who acquire a taste for human prey are usually hunted down.

The Campfire group was founded after the country gained independence from Britain in 1980. The group promotes the management of wildlife and use of wildlife products in sparsely populated areas. The report is part of its efforts to educate remote communities about the dangers of animal attacks.

"Most of the time there is no recognition of that fact, that communities are always on the front line of the battle between man and beast," said Campfire director Charles Jonga.

Crocodiles prey on villagers who fish and wash in rivers and lakes, conservationists say. Elephants can become enraged when confronted by people, or when females are separated from their young. Buffalo and hippos can also attack when disturbed.

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