In the popular imagination, a typical Aussie bloke probably looks a lot like Rodney Fischer – but his days are anything but.
Living in the remote region of East Kimberley, in the very north of Western Australia, he works for a not-for-profit community development organisation that helps locals find meaningful employment. But during his downtime the avid photographer gets close and personal with some of Australia’s rarest – and gnarliest – creatures.
Last month, while cruising on the Kimberley’s Ord River, he came across a “monster” crocodile as it was feasting on another, younger crocodile.
“It was massive, that croc. It would’ve been over five metres,” Rodney told Yahoo News Australia.
The croc population in the area has surged in recent years, even prompting concern from WA’s Parks and Wildlife Service about how strongly their numbers are rebounding after being nearly hunted to extinction in the Ord River before protections were introduced in the 1970s.
Their numbers have since increased by about tenfold in the river — from about 200 to 2,000 — and have reportedly doubled in the past five years.
“Because the population is a lot more than previous years, it does happen fairly often now, the bigger males will keep population in check by knocking off other smaller males that come into their territory,” Rodney said.
“I don’t see it often, but when I do it’s pretty amazing.”
He shares such encounters on his YouTube channel Tropical Exposure, where he is building a nascent audience. “Amazing video,” one viewer commented. “Monster,” another simply reacted.
Alongside some incredible croc footage, he shares photos and videos of snakes, local bird life – including the beautiful and threatened Gouldian finch – from his various adventures “fishing and hiking through the Kimberley” with his wild dingo Bob (Rodney had Bob, who turns two today, tested and the results came back as 98.7 per cent pure dingo).
Wallaby’s antics near crocs stuns
One recent set of photos garnered attention for Rodney from local media as they showed brave wallabies hanging out on a riverbank just metres away from a giant predator, with many Aussies expressing shock and awe at the seemingly foolhardy wallabies.
“I haven’t seen any get taken, but a friend has seen wallabies get taken by crocs down on the Ord. Every now and then you come across half a wallaby on the bank,” Rodney told Yahoo.
“I’ve got photos of one sniffing the tail of a massive crocodile,” he added.
While the wallabies don’t seem to fearful, the rising number of crocs in the area has begun to prompt concern among local wildlife authorities who worry about the likelihood of human fatalities.
East Kimberley district wildlife officer Steven Leeder believes people in the East Kimberley are too complacent near the water’s edge, especially those who grew up at a time when saltwater crocodiles were rarer.
“It’s a real shame to think about the impact of what a fatality is going to have on the community,” he told the ABC in October.
Rodney admits “most of the crocs are bigger” than the tinnie boat he travels in but doesn’t seem phased by the beasts. “I used to catch crocodiles for farms, a few years ago,” he said when asked about any perceived danger.
Last month a tourist in the area made a lucky escape after she was bitten by a two-metre-long crocodile in a remote Kimberley creek near Gumboot Bay.
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