Lake where student died had warning on crocodiles

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The Independent Online

The Kenya Wildlife Service denied advising that it was safe to swim in a lake where a British student died, after an autopsy confirmed she was attacked by a crocodile.

Yesterday the service contradicted claims by the organisers of 18-year-old Amy Nicholls' gap-year tour that Lake Challa was crocodile-free.

Janie Bell, whose husband is a director of Africa and Asia Venture Ltd, said on Monday that the wildlife service, the student's hotel and locals all said the lake on the border with Tanzania "is and always has been" free of crocodiles.

But Joseph Kioko, director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, said yesterday it had not been consulted and had "at no time" suggested that the lake was crocodile-free.

He said small crocodiles had been seen there over several years but there were no reports of people being attacked. The service advised visitors not to swim in any lakes or rivers in Kenya, he added.

Mrs Bell insisted yesterday that the company's initial understanding was that the service had advised that the lake was safe. "There have been so many conflicting reports coming out of Kenya we are not saying any more," she said.

Miss Nicholls' body was due to be flown home yesterday after the autopsy. Police said tests had shown her death was due to a "combination of drowning and attack by crocodile".

She and her friends were using 1999 edition of the Rough Guide to Kenya, which said the lake once had a population of "harmless dwarf crocodiles" but was now a pleasant place to swim.

A spokesman for Rough Guides said a new edition due to be released next month would advise readers against swimming in any inland waters in Kenya.