Living with crocodiles in Northern Australia and other places they’re found, can be dangerous.
But like tigers in India and lions in Africa, we can’t just go around killing everything that threatens us.
Last year Karen went to Jim Corbett National Park in India to see a Tiger and was rewarded with this amazing experience: A tigress and her three (look hard for #3) cubs.
Did you know that over 1 million Indian residents have been killed by Tigers since records commenced?
Not many people think we should kill the remaining tigers because they eat people.
Yet that refrain does echo around every-time someone is taken by a croc.
Thankfully, unlike Tigers that roam the land, crocs most times keep to the water.
Whilst we are horrified to hear when someone is tragically taken by any animal, avoiding croc habitat is the best way to stay safe.
When it comes to living with crocodiles, I must admit I myself had been complacent at times.
As a kid in the 70’s, I often swam with my parents on the beaches around Townsville and Magnetic Island.
I came to believe that these areas are safe!
However we must remember that was when crocodiles were virtually extinct after being hunted for their skins. (Yes I’m that old).
Living with crocodiles now is a very different story to when I grew up!
In fact I ended up with a hook in the nose earlier this year by being complacent.
I was filming a new land based segment for Barra Basics with my son Col when a large croc surfaced nearby.
I moved backwards rather quickly and my lure caught on a mangrove root.
Keeping a wary eye on the lizard (and not the lure), it let go and got me straight in the face.
Yet another hazard when fishing and living with crocodiles haha.
Sadly, Cardwell’s largest resident croc Bismark was shot last year and since then a new big fella has moved in.
I was particularly wary of the new croc as it has been showing aggression of late having eaten a dog or two off the beach.
Big crocs are residents and when you take out one, another one moves in to take it’s place.
Reality nowadays is, living with crocodiles means staying out of their habitat or you risk your life!
Just because you don’t see a croc, it doesn’t mean there is not one close by. (Watch our video below).
Crocs can stay submerged for up to one hour and even a large croc can be concealed in knee deep water.
Beware venturing too close to the water’s edge unless the water is clear and shallow and you can see all around you.
They can also outpace a human on land in a short burst and even if there are no warning signs, do not swim in waters north of Gladstone.
Estuarine crocodiles may also inhabit freshwater pools and billabongs a great distance upstream.
Check out our video below on living with crocodiles including some footage of us swimming with a 5 m croc (no bravery here we were in a perspex cage).
NOTE: The instinctive reaction to splashing! Keep this front of mind when fishing near the water’s edge in croc country!
Staying safe while living with crocodiles
Since they were protected from hunting in the early 70’s, crocodile numbers have increased significantly and they are now found in many places that were once deemed safe.
There is a ton of resources on staying safe around crocs which we will summarize below.
Boating and Fishing
- Crocs prefer to hunt at night. Be extra careful around water at night, dawn and dusk.
- Females are aggressive defending their nest during crocodile breeding season, from September to April.
- Avoid going near the edge of the water. Do not paddle or wade in the water.
- Always stand at least 5 m from the water’s edge when fishing.
- Preferably utilize a barrier (shrub, esky, boat) between you and the water when fishing, launching and retrieving a boat or approaching the water’s edge.
- Be extra careful when launching or retrieving your boat – jump over the bow to enter and leave the boat rather than wade into the water.
- Do not lean over the edge of a boat or stand on logs overhanging the water.
- Do not paddle, clean fish, prepare food or wash at the the water’s edge or from the side of a boat.
- Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat.
- Crocodiles can attack people in boats. The smaller the boat, the greater the risk. DO NOT KAYAK OR PADDLE BOARD in croc country.
- Don’t enter the water to retrieve a lure. 15 bucks is not worth your life!
- Get out of the water as quickly as possible if you fall out of a boat.
- Camp at least 50 m from the water’s edge.
- Avoid places where animals and livestock drink.
- Avoid returning to the same spot at the water’s edge to fill your bucket. Crocodiles recognize patterns quickly.
- Please dispose of food scraps, fish offal and other waste in bins away from your campsite. Never leave food scraps, fish frames, crab pots or bait at your campsite. Not even when you are leaving a camp site as it may place following campers in danger. Crocs can be attracted to the easy meal which can place you and subsequent campers at risk.
- Never prepare food, wash dishes or do other tasks near the water’s edge or next to sloping banks. Fill up your bucket (not from the same place twice) and move away from the edge of the water.
Living with Crocodiles – General advice.
- Report all crocodile sightings to 1300 130 372 even if you’ve reported the animal before.
- Stay at least 5 m from the water’s edge—crocodiles often hunt their prey at the water’s edge.
- Do not feed crocodiles—it is illegal, dangerous, and teaches crocodiles to associate humans with food.
- Stay well away from crocodile traps. Crocodile traps are designed to attract hungry crocodiles so avoid fishing and boating near them and never interfere with them. People who deliberately interfere with the operation of crocodile traps face penalties that may exceed $15,000.
- Dogs are attractive prey to crocodiles. Keep your pets on a lead and away from the water’s edge.
- Watch out for crocodiles in unusual places after very high tides and heavy rains. Crocodiles can move further upstream during very high tides and periods of flooding and may move into new areas where they have not been seen before.
- Crocodiles are more active during the warmer months of the wet season.
- No waterway in Crocodile Country can ever be considered crocodile free. If you must swim, reduce your risk.
- Swim between the flags at patrolled beaches. Visit the Beachsafe website to locate patrolled beaches in your area.
- Do not swim at dawn, dusk or at night when crocodiles are most active. Do not swim in murky water.
- Understand that crocodiles usually hunt by staying submerged and can attack in knee-deep water so wading can still be dangerous.
- The removal of crocodiles in an area doesn’t eliminate the risk of an attack.
Crocs are super majestic and powerful creatures.
They are amazing when seen up close albeit hiding behind a perspex shield.
I have encountered many a croc while fishing and exploring northern Australia and to date have not had any close encounters.
As humans I do believe we can’t go round killing everything that threatens us.
There are plenty of other amazing places to frequent with no crocs for our enjoyment.
Thanks for taking the time to visit our site and read our post on living with crocodiles. We really appreciate it.
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