Despite recent attacks, Australia doesn’t have a crocodile problem

by Brandon Michael Sidelaw

The body of a missing person was found last weekend A 12-year-old girl was found She was carried off by a saltwater crocodile in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The incident happened in a waterway called Mango Creek near the Ngammaliyanga/Paloompa area of ​​the remote and sparsely populated West Dairy region, about 350km southwest of Darwin.

Naturally, this tragedy provoked strong reactions from the public. Crocodile population debate In the wild.

I am based in the Northern Territory and have worked extensively in the field of human-crocodile conflict management. Crocodile Attacka global open-source database of crocodile attacks. With all the emotions swirling around this latest incident, it’s important to remember that fatal crocodile attacks are extremely rare in Australia, and there’s no evidence to suggest they are too common.

Two young saltwater crocodiles

Two young saltwater crocodiles

Fatal crocodile attacks are extremely rare in Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

Number of crocodiles does not equal number of attacks

The Northern Territory’s saltwater crocodiles numbers Approximately 100,000 people (This does not include hatchlings.) Studies suggest that on average there are about five crocodiles per kilometre of waterway.

Fatal crocodile attacks in the territory peaked in 2014 when four people were killed. The last fatal attack before the latest incident was in 2018, when an Indigenous ranger was killed while fishing with his family.

Mortality rates are much lower than in other parts of the saltwater crocodile’s range. For example, in Indonesia, at least 85 people died last year aloneMoreover, crocodile attacks in the Indonesian part of Papua are thought to be largely under-reported, meaning the actual death toll is probably much higher.

Despite this, crocodile numbers in Indonesia appear to have declined significantly, with most studies revealing crocodile densities in waterways to be well below one per kilometre.

Silhouette man throwing a netSilhouette man throwing a net

Silhouette man throwing a net

Unlike in Australia, Indonesian fishermen often venture into waterways, putting them at higher risk of being attacked by crocodiles. Photo: Shutterstock

Why Crocodile Attacks Are Rare

There are several theories as to why saltwater crocodile attacks are relatively rare in Australia.

Firstly, Australians generally have access to fresh water at home – unlike people in countries like Indonesia, they don’t have to go to waterways to bathe, do household chores or collect drinking water, meaning they’re less likely to encounter a crocodile.

Secondly, Australians have access to fishing gear that doesn’t require them to dive into waterways to catch fish, and safer fishing boats that are less likely to capsize, as is the case in Indonesia.

The Northern Territory is less densely populated and less developed than other areas where saltwater crocodiles live, which means less habitat destruction, more natural prey for the crocodiles and fewer people in their areas.

Importantly, particularly in the Northern Territory, CrocWise Campaignand powerful management plan.

Crocodiles don’t need to be exterminated

The region’s crocodile management plan was recently revised to increase the region’s culling quota from 300 to 1,200 per year, but did not result in widespread culling.

However, every time a crocodile attack occurs in Australia, Discuss Whether crocodile numbers need to be more tightly controlled in Australia.

Following the recent crocodile attacks, Northern Territory Premier Eva Lawler said “crocodile numbers cannot be allowed to outnumber the human population… we need to control crocodile numbers.”

The claim that crocodile populations need to be “controlled” makes little sense – research shows that apex predators like crocodiles do not overbreed. The Northern Territory’s crocodile population has never been, and will never be, out of control.

This is especially true for saltwater crocodiles, where less than 1% of hatchlings survive to adulthood, and where fighting between males is often deadly.

Not practical

2015 Australian study Decided “Crocodiles move and disperse between different habitats, so removing all crocodiles from one location is not a realistic option. No culling program can guarantee that an area will be crocodile-free, and swimming there will still be unsafe for the public,” the statement said.

Other Australian studies found To prevent one attack per year, the crocodile population would need to be reduced by 90%.

Preventing crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory requires better education for communities, more signs warning of the dangers of crocodiles and stiffer fines for people who knowingly engage in dangerous behaviour.

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To prevent crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory, more signs warning of the dangers are needed. Photo: Darren England/AAP

New tools are also being developed, including for crocodile detection. Multibeam Sonar In areas with a high risk of attack, Attaching the magnet Methods have been proposed to disrupt the homing instincts of the crocodiles while relocating them, but these methods require further research.

Ultimately, through public education and management, it will be possible for humans to coexist with crocodiles with minimal conflict.

This article was first conversation.

post Despite recent attacks, Australia doesn’t have a crocodile problem First appeared in Explorers Web.

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