For a croc about to launch an ambush attack, timing is crucial. A moment too early and the predator will give away its position, too late and lunch will be long gone.

In this short clip filmed by a Campfire Academy student in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a croc misses out on a meal when it bursts from the water just a little too soon, allowing its prey – a waterbuck – to escape unscathed.

Crocodiles rely on the water to conceal their bodies as they drift towards their prey. After locking in on the target using impressive binocular vision, the crocodile will flick its tail in a wavelike motion to push its body upwards and out of the water. While hunting at the water’s edge, crocodiles can also use their feet to push off the ground like spring-loaded pistons to help launch a speedy attack.

Nile crocodiles (the species shown in the clip) have sharp, cone-shaped teeth that make it almost impossible for prey to break free from their grip – so this waterbuck made a narrow escape.

Although crocs can catch and eat larger mammals like waterbuck and other antelope, the majority of their diet is actually made up of fish.

Header image: Vassilis