Northern Territory Police have recovered the body of an Aboriginal ranger after she was taken by a “problem crocodile” while fishing with her family on Friday.
The attack occurred at around 10:30am in the remote East Arnhem outstation of Gangan, 177 kilometres south-west of Nhulunbuy.
NT Police Commander Tony Fuller said the woman was collecting mussels in a billabong with her family.
“She was with the group … and the group noticed her missing,” he said.
“They heard some splashing … [and] the bucket that she was carrying was found nearby.”
Officers from Lake Evella and Nhulunbuy worked with local rangers and the community to search nearby waterways for the woman on Friday afternoon.
Her body and the crocodile were found just before 5:00pm, less than 1 kilometre from the scene.
The crocodile was destroyed by local Indigenous rangers and the woman’s body was recovered.
A close friend of the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said the crocodile was known to rangers as a “problem” who had defied “numerous” capture attempts.
They said the victim would be missed for her bold personality and sense of humour, and remembered her as a hard worker who was admired by both the Yolngu and Balanda communities.
Commander Fuller said the woman had been “waist-deep” in water at the time of the attack, and whether or not she was working at the time would form part of police inquiries.
Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation, which runs the Yirralka Rangers program, first reported the attack to authorities, and has since closed its office.
NT WorkSafe confirmed it was investigating the incident.
“NT WorkSafe has been notified that a female Aboriginal Ranger has been taken by a crocodile approximately 206km south west of Yirrkala,” it said in a statement.
“NT WorkSafe has commenced an investigation into the incident.”