YET ANOTHER GRIM crocodile statistic made headlines in the newspapers recently. Sadly, a 14-year-old boy from an NT Aboriginal community disappeared shortly after being attacked by a croc while swimming with his brothers.
CROCS ON THE RISE
A few other recent fatalities spring to mind. The death of five-year-old Jeremy Noble last year on the Daintree River was attributed to a croc, for one, and in previous years grey nomads have disappeared on the Endeavour River and in Lakefield National Park in Far North Qld. On top of these and many other fatalities is a frightening increase of sightings and near misses.
Crocodile numbers, along with their interaction with humans, are definitely on the rise. They can be a real danger, especially in more remote areas of northern Australia. While it is important to be cautious in these areas, it's also important to keep the whole issue in perspective. There aren’t crocodiles in every creek, river and waterhole waiting to snap up anglers, so don’t give up your fishing and boating.
Simply adopting a few commonsense precautions will go a long way towards keeping you safe when you’re on or near northern waters.
1. If you're bush camping, set up your RV at least 50m from the water's edge and, if possible, a couple of metres above the high tide mark.
2. Don’t leave food or fish scraps around your camp and don’t dump them nearby.
3. Check the area for rubbish and the nearby river bank for croc slides before setting up camp. The careless habits of previous campers may have already lured crocs to your intended campsite.
4. Avoid areas where domestic or native animals come to drink.
5. Baited crab pots will attract crocs. Use a boat to set your pots well away from your camp, and always take care when checking them.
6. Always heed warning signs and the advice of rangers and locals.
7. Don't enter the water in crocodile country, and never clean or fillet fish at the water's edge.
8. When boarding boats, keep the vessel between you and open water to minimise the risk of attack.
9. Use a bow rope when launching a boat so you don’t have to enter the water.
Also, try to keep the trailer between you and deeper water as a barrier.
10. When fishing, stand a couple of metres back from the water’s edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging the water. Crocodiles can leap the length of their body to snatch prey from logs and banks.
11. Stay well clear of any crocodiles. In Qld, for instance, it is illegal to bring a boat or vehicle within 10m of a crocodile.
12. In serious crocodile country, choose the biggest boat you can handle rather than a small dinghy, kayak or canoe.