Friday, 10 August 2018

Australia debates around crocodile culling - via Herp Digest

Wildlife By Greg Navarro
"Crocodile numbers have increased massively since the 1970s when they were protected in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia," said University of New South Wales associate professor Mike Letnic.

We were told that was especially true in Northern Queensland, where we went to the Daintree River with the hope of seeing a crocodile in the wild. 

After spending just 15 minutes with David White, who owns Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruises, we came across three placid predators along the riverbanks – one was almost three and a half meters long.

"That is the main draw card, crocs, people wanting to see crocs in the wild rather than in a concrete cage, to be able to see them in their natural habitat doing their natural thing," said White.

That tourist draw is a big part of the tourism industry here, which helps to drive the area's economy.

With the increase in crocodiles has come an increased number of encounters with humans. According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, there have been 33 attacks since 1985. Eleven of those attacks have been fatal.

Some Queensland politicians want to allow crocodile culling and safari hunting to better protect people.
They claim certain beaches are no longer safe for swimming, and the increasing threat is hurting tourism.

"Removing individual crocodiles does not make an area safer because another one is always going to come in and take its place, and unless you are going to go out and shoot them all, which I very much hope is not going to happen, there is not commercial incentive for that anyway," said White.

He and a growing number of people are calling for better education to help keep people safe. We encountered several signs warning people that crocodiles may be in certain areas including beaches.

Letnic worked with the Northern Territory government to help it develop a strategy to cope with a growing crocodile population. He believes education alone is not enough.

"I think a more realistic solution is probably to set up tolerant zones, and we have areas around population centers and we have areas around high recreation areas where we say we don't want to have any crocs here. And we get rid of the crocs here and we focus our efforts there, otherwise it is an enormous country and I don't think we can manage it," he said.

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