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CDU EXPERTS: NT’s croc strategy one of the world’s best

Charles Darwin University 2 mins read

7 FEBRUARY, 2023

Who: Charles Darwin University Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods Director Professor Sam Banks, and Charles Darwin University crocodile specialist Brandon Sideleau. Mr Sideleau runs the worldwide crocodilian attack database CrocATTACK.

Topics:

  • Saltwater crocodile management.
  • Population and migration trends.
  • Human-saltwater crocodile conflict.

Contact details: Call +61 8 8946 6721 or email media@cdu.edu.au to arrange an interview.

Quotes attributable to Professor Sam Banks:

“CDU is supportive of the strong science-based approach to saltwater crocodile management under the draft plan. Managing a species like the saltwater crocodile for the human safety risks but also for the for the major crocodile farming industry, for tourism and for environmental conservation is a big challenge. However, we have an example of world's best practice science-based wildlife management here in the NT.

“It is easy to make alarmist statements about crocodiles but the NT has a well-developed program of crocodile monitoring, public awareness education and intensive crocodile management focussed on areas of high risk. As a result, we haven't had a fatal attack here since 2018. While any crocodile attack is terrible, this compares favourably relative to the rate of dangerous wildlife encounters elsewhere.

“Some of the science we contribute to crocodile management from CDU includes using DNA to understand crocodile movement across the NT and right throughout Australia and southeast Asia, developing new methods to detect crocodile presence based on trace DNA in water, identifying the effects of crocodile density on environmental health and managing data on global crocodile risks to humans. Together with other sources of information like the ongoing crocodile monitoring programs, this research is used to develop and refine crocodile management strategies that deliver the most effective outcomes for human safety given the resources allocated. The new draft plan enables us to do a stocktake of new research and management tools to ensure that crocodile management is done as effectively as possible into the future.”

Quotes attributable to Mr Sideleau:

"The current NT crocodile management plan is one of the world's greatest crocodile management success stories. There has not been a fatal attack in the territory since 2018, which is an amazing achievement, particularly given that the NT has the largest saltwater crocodile population extant range-wide.

“In Indonesia, for example, at least 85 people were killed by saltwater crocodiles in 2023 alone, despite Indonesia having only a fraction of the crocodile population. In areas where surveys have been conducted, saltwater crocodile densities in Indonesia have all been <1 individual per km. Clearly the number of crocodiles is a poor indicator of conflict frequency. Other factors, such as poverty, human population density, habitat destruction, and natural prey abundance are likely to play the greatest role. Why is this important for the NT? If a crocodile ‘cull’ were to happen, this could lull the public into a false sense of security, resulting in more deaths, rather than fewer.

“Unless crocodiles are completely eradicated, which is a ludicrous concept, these waterways will remain unsafe for swimming. Increasing culling of the saltwater crocodile population will accomplish nothing except waste money and time, as well as damage the NT's reputation as a crocodile ecotourism destination.

“We are currently experiencing the longest time between fatal crocodile attacks in the Territory since the 1990s. Why? Because the current management plan works."


Contact details:

Raphaella Saroukos she/her
Communications Officer
Marketing, Media & Communications
Larrakia Country
T: +61 8 8946 6721
E: media@cdu.edu.au
W: cdu.edu.au

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