There is a youtube video about The Ahom Kingdom. It generally sounds fairly well researched and makes only one obvious extraordinary claim. In describing the Battle of Saraighat (1671) the following statement is made:

16:36 [Lachit Borphukan] employed unconventional tactics even going so far as to release trained crocodiles into the river creating panic and confusion among the Mogul ranks

Wikipedia makes no mention of crocodiles. Further searching brings up nothing obvious that could be the source of this claim. It sounds unlikely on the face of it both because crocodiles cannot be trained and because we are talking about up to 16 gun warships. Is there anything behind this claim?

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    A few minutes of research leads me to share your skepticism. Very difficult to prove a negative, but I'm finding no evidence to the positive Does Odd Compass provide any sources?
    – MCW
    Commented Jun 24 at 10:19
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    Please clarify whether "16 gun warships" means "some number of warships withf up to 16 guns" or "16 warships of some number of guns". The former would be small brigs by European standards, while the latter might be rather large ships off the line. If I was serving on a small brig, even untrained crocodiles in the river would concern me. Commented Jun 24 at 11:49
  • I've never tried to train a crocodile, but my opinion, for what it is worth, is that it wouldn't be easy. Commented Jun 25 at 2:50
  • @SimonCrase - Same. They do have some behaviors one might leverage though. Specifically they are aggressive and territorial, so would probably attack anyone trying to swim their river/moat. Since only bad guys would be doing that, they could be attack animals without needing to be trained attack animals.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


No. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and there is no evidence here at all. If there were any sources discussing this, they would not be hard to find via Google Scholar.

An article on "Military Administration Of The Ahom" (Nath 2020) does mention that the Ahom built defensive ditches and these may have contained crocodiles. It does not assert anything about training crocodiles or releasing them into battle, nor does any other relevant source I can find.

  • I know they are different creatures, but for a while I lived in Central Florida, and pretty much any body of water there is likely to contain alligators. Any over the size of a tiny pond is guaranteed to have them. It appears that river valley used to be rife with Gharials before they were eradicated from it in the 20th century. A decently-sized moat in the area is likely to just get them with no effort on the builder's part.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 24 at 15:13
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    @T.E.D. Gharial aren't associated with attacks on humans I believe. Mugger, which are also common in India, are the ones that attack. Not that I think that it would be possible to train "attack crocodiles"
    – bob1
    Commented Jun 24 at 21:39
  • @bob1 - Ah yes. This bit here is also what Florida gators do, and why every body of water big enough to skip a rock in has some and every pool in the state is caged in: "... walks on land in search of suitable waterbodies during the hot season"
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 24 at 22:24

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