Wildlife rangers in the Top End have caught a 4.4-metre, 350-kilogram saltwater crocodile in an area frequented by tourists.
The massive male croc was trapped in the Flora River Nature Park, about 120 kilometres south of Katherine, last Friday and local rangers say it is the biggest to be caught in the Flora River in at least five years.
“The tourists walk down to the river in the area where he was,” Katherine senior wildlife ranger John Burke said.
Mr Burke emphasised the importance of being “crocwise” around waterways.
“With the weather warming up, the crocodiles are becoming active,” he said.
“They’re moving into breeding season as well, and the rivers are low and they’re out looking for mates, particularly the big males.”
Local rangers also caught a 3.3-metre male saltwater crocodile in the Katherine River, about 55 kilometres downstream of Katherine last week.
‘You’ve got to respect him’
Mr Burke said the 4.4-metre crocodile was the biggest one trapped this year.
“Every couple of years we’ll get a big one up around 4.5 to 4.7 metres, but most of the time the average length for the crocs we catch in the Katherine River is 3.6 metres,” he said.
“You’ve certainly got to respect him for what he is, and he’s in good condition, too.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to run across him when I’m out fishing.”
The crocodile has been taken to a crocodile farm and will be used as breeding stock, according to Mr Burke.
“Hopefully, it will be a little croc resort there and he’ll have a new girlfriend,” he said.
Less rain and crocodiles
The Katherine region has experienced consecutive wet seasons with well-below average rainfall, and the lack of rain is starting to affect croc movements.
“Crocs haven’t moved around, and they’ve stayed in the water holes where they are,” Mr Burke said.
Katherine wildlife rangers removed 23 crocodiles from the Katherine River management zone three years ago.
Mr Burke said the number of removals had fallen to just five a year in the past few years.