As we write this, the news is alight with reports of two croc attacks in North Queensland in a short space of time. One was of a young fella trying to impress a girl by jumping into the Johnstone River (stupid, you’d have to say); luckily, he was only mauled and suffered injury to one arm and his pride! The other assault was not far away and was a fatal attack on a spearfisherman. The latest report on this sad fatality is that the ‘large and aggressive’ crocodile will be removed by wildlife officers and will be killed if necessary.
Methinks this is all a bit too late and the culling of crocs is long overdue. I said the same thing last year when a woman was killed by a croc at Thornton Beach, a little further north than the two recent attacks. When I posted similar on our Remote Australia Facebook page, I got quite a few heated replies amongst the range of views.
Back in 2016, the Queensland government sat on its hands and did little to address the continual problem of crocs. Maybe now they’ll realise that as croc numbers explode, croc-infested waters are increasing in size and in conflict with local Queensland communities, and human deaths are a likely result.
Of course, the situation is not helped by intensions led by the Irwin family in Queensland and the Crocodile Conservation and Protection Society in the NT. While I admire much of the conservation and education efforts of the Irwin family, their opinions and actions when it comes to crocs that eat people, or those that potentially threaten the safety of people, is pretty bloody clouded and, in the eyes of this writer, not rational.
These latest attacks follow the death of a local at the infamous Cahills Crossing back in January this year. In fact, every year for the last few years there has been one or more fatal attacks by crocs in the north of the country.
In 2015, when the NT Government said it was edging closer to allowing trophy hunting of crocs, there was a public outcry but I'm buggered if I can see why. The NT government and some Federal Coalition members wanted to see the federal ban on trophy hunting of crocs lifted. They argued Aboriginal communities should be able to access and sell up to 20 one-use culling permits annually, deducted from the existing Territory-wide tally capped at up to 600 and issued case-by-case. You see, in the Territory, problem crocs are being killed – something that has been going on for a few years under the NT government’s control plan for crocs.
Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, reportedly said: “There’s no difference from crocodiles and flathead except for size and teeth,” and I gotta agree with that. The NT tourist fishing industry generates a lot of local employment and money for the Territory government – the croc trophy hunting scene could be just as successful, and while much smaller in numbers, it could generate much needed income in remote Aboriginal communities and real employment opportunities.
Oh, I can hear people now going on about trophy hunting and how barbaric it is. But the truth is many of us eat meat, wear leather shoes, sit on leather seats in our cars, and some of us even eat crocodile, so if someone wants to kill a croc and somebody else can earn a buck out of it, and there is no danger of the animal going extinct, well I say let’s go for it!
An old retired croc shooter in the NT reckons he tells everyone these days that the only safe place to swim is in the shower. Good advice, I reckon, given the current situation – whether you are in the NT, WA or Qld.