A Queensland cruise owner who has worked alongside crocodiles in harmony for almost 30 years has slammed those responsible for the “cruel” and “horrible” killings, which has so far seen at least 15 of the animals shot and beheaded along the Norman River.
David White, who owns and operates Solar Whisper cruises on the Daintree River, said he’s sick of “hysterical”, trigger-happy people thinking they can “just shoot” crocs because “they might potentially hurt us”.
He said after the recent string of killings at Normanton, in the Gulf Country region in the state’s northwest, urgent action needs to be taken from authorities to prevent further killings, which he believes has been going on undetected “for months”.
‘Hysteria’ adding fuel to fire
“Unfortunately, it’s just a lack of knowledge combined with hysteria that makes people want to kill them, but it doesn’t have any logic to it,” Mr White told Yahoo News Australia.
“It’s probably just an individual or couple of people out there who know each other in one boat, I’d say. A lot of the locals up there, the fishermen especially, they fish with crocs all the time, and they’re really upset about this. They like their crocodiles up there and they exist quite happily alongside them.”
Working at the Daintree for some three decades, Mr White said the killings at Normanton dredge up gut-wrenching memories of another tragic incident that occurred just months ago, which saw a beloved crocodile affectionately known as Lizzie — whom Mr White had admired and interacted with for 20 years — beheaded in May.
“We lost one of our crocodiles this year, Lizzie, I named her 23 years ago and she was found dead on the river bank in May. That was really, really sad for me,” he said.
“Someone killed her for the sake of it.”
Killing crocs not making life safe for anyone, local claims
People “go out and kill for the hell of it”, Mr White added, “thinking that they’re making the world a safer place because they hate crocodiles”.
“They really think they’re saving the world by doing that,” he said. “But of course, they aren’t. It doesn’t make life any safer, but it is cruel and horrible.”
As a result of the latest killing spree, in which large, likely very old crocodiles were targeted, it’s now possible a domino effect will occur within the area’s fragile ecosystem.
Removing such an animal from their natural environment, and from an habitat they likely inhabited for half a century, is “absolutely” going to have serious “reverberations”, Dr Ross Dwyer, Senior Lecturer of Animal Ecology at Sunshine Coast University told Yahoo News Australia earlier this week.
“We think crocodiles can get up over 100-years-old. So, those animals, those very large ones that we’re seeing in some of those pictures, you know, they could be over 50 to 60 years old,” he told Yahoo.
A spokesperson for Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science confirmed that an investigation is underway, with authorities on the ground today. “Wildlife officers are at Normanton now investigating with QPS and Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers,” the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia, adding that a further update on the investigation is expected later today.
In the meantime, Mr White said he’ll continue his croc crusade, educating people about how “amazing” the animals are, and how that if we just behaved appropriately around them, they’d pose no threat to humans at all.
“Part of my job is telling people about crocodiles and trying to convince them that they’re not killing machines and that they are amazing, living dinosaurs we have with us,” he said.
“We should be proud of them and teach people how to live with them and coexist.
“It’s all about education, not eradication. That’s what I always say.”
In Queensland, the maximum penalty for deliberately harming or killing crocodiles is a fine of $32,000.
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