Illustrative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

A girl aged 11 jumped on the back of a crocodile and gouged out its eyes as it was trying to eat her friend near their homes in north-western Zimbabwe.

Rebecca Munkombwe, a schoolgirl in Hwange town, 200 miles north-west of Bulawayo, rushed to a stream at the sound of screams.

Her friend, Latoya Muwani, aged 9, was struggling to stay afloat as the crocodile latched its jaws around her.

Rebecca jumped on to the creature and dug her fingers deep into its eyes, she told the Sunday News, a local newspaper.

The crocodile loosened its grip on Latoya and slipped away under the water, allowing Rebecca to drag her friend - who only suffered minor injuries - to the bank.

"We had just left the water when we heard Latoya, who was left alone swimming near the deep zone, screaming that something was biting her," Rebecca said. "I jumped on top of the crocodile and started beating it with my hands before using my fingers to poke its eyes."

Fortune Muwani, Latoya's father, said her survival was "miraculous", adding: "How [Rebecca] managed to do that, I don't know, but am grateful to God."

Steve Chisose, a local councillor, said attacks were on the rise because problems with water supplies were driving more people to use unprotected, crocodile-infested streams.