Fisherman Forms Touching Bond with 4-Meter-Long Crocodile

An Indonesian fisherman claims to have shared a friendship with a four-meter-long saltwater crocodile for over 20 years and calls the reptile part of the local community.

59-year-old Ambo, a fisherman from Bontang City, in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan, has become somewhat of a celebrity in his country because of his unusual friendship with a giant saltwater crocodile named Rizka. The giant reptile has been a constant part of Ambo’s life for the past 26 years, ever since he first laid eyes on her in the waters of Pupuk Kaltim. She was only about one meter in size back then, and he didn’t pay much attention to her as she swam past his boat, but when he noticed that she had followed him home, Ambo grabbed some food and tossed it in the water. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship spanning 26 years and who knows how many more going forward.

“I first ran into Rizka when I was on a boat passing through the waters of the Pupuk Kaltim area 23 years ago,” Ambo told Kompas back in 2020. “She was then only about a meter long, so I ignored her as I made my way home. [But] I noticed that [Rizka] followed the vessel home. I even saw her next to the boat, which I also named Rizka. I called her over to give her something to eat, and she came around. She has since been doing that.”

“If I don’t see her for two or three days, I go looking for her,” Ambo added. “I treat her as my own child.”


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A post shared by AMBO (@amboriska)

Over the years, these two unlikely friends became really close. Rizka often floats near Ambo’s boat when she sees him, and doesn’t go away until he strokes her back for a while. She also visits his home whenever she is hungry, and he is more than happy to throw her something to eat.

“I usually give Rizka three chickens. Once she has been fed, she swims away,” Ambo said. “When I leave the village, I’ve to tell my neighbors to feed Rizka while I’m gone. I had to get neighbors to look after Rizka after my wife told me once that the croc came around when I was away.”


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A post shared by AMBO (@amboriska)

When Ambo was away for about two years, working in the provincial capital Samarinda, he asked local fishermen to take care of Rizka for him, and they would throw the crocodile some of them catch when they saw her. Since then, Rizka has become part of the community, and people see her as their guardian.

Ambo claims to love Rizka as if she were his child, and although he admits that he still fears scared sitting so close to a four-meter-long crocodile that could literally swallow him whole, he is willing to put his life on the line in the name of their friendship.


“Sure the fear is there, but my ancestors believed that one can bond with crocodiles and other animals as if we have familial relations with them,” the fisherman said.


To keep up with Ambo and Riska, check out their official Instagram.