Mirrar In The News

Herald Sun: Elders call for croc kill after NT attack

28 Jan 2014

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By Alison Bevege

TRADITIONAL OWNERS have called for better management of croc numbers after a 2.5m saltie attacked a group of boys swimming at a billabong.

"Mirarr Traditional Aboriginal Owners and staff of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation express our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of the boy taken by a crocodile at Madjinbardi (Mudginberri) billabong yesterday afternoon," GAC Chief Executive Officer Justin O’Brien said.

"The Corporation, which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the area, is working with other organisations to provide support to affected families and to help coordinate the community response to the tragedy.

"Mirarr have praised the rapid response of local police and Parks authorities and have renewed their call for the State and Federal Governments to review the management of crocodiles in Kakadu National Park,"

"People have been swimming in these waterways for tens of thousands of years. Adults in the community have memories of swimming happily in these waterways.

"For the past 30 years many Traditional Owners have been saying there are too many crocs and that the numbers need to be managed.

"Kakadu has been managed by the Federal Government for 30 years, whereas Mirarr and other Traditional Owners have managed this land for tens of thousands of years. Their knowledge and experience must be heeded.

"Mirarr are calling for a review of the management of crocodiles around their communities in response to their increasing numbers and safety concerns,” Mr O’Brien said.

It was first thought a larger, 4m reptile was responsible for the attack which has shocked a small community in the Territory's world famous national park.

Last night, police were shooting crocs bigger than 3m, during the search for the boy, who was taken while swimming with friends around 2pm, in the Mudginberri Billabong, about 280km east of Darwin.

Two crocodiles were shot last night - one 4.3m and one 4.7m - and rangers raced to reports of a third sighting in the last hour, but did not find the animal.

Jabiru police Sergeant Stephen Constable said the orders changed after they measured the distance between the bite marks on the surviving child's arm.

Sgt Constable said the intensity of the search was subsiding.

"We've done the sprint, now we've got to pace ourselves," he said.

Park rangers will set a croc trap in the Magela Creek this afternoon and an airboat will be launched at 7pm, as the search continues.

Five children were playing in the billabong when the attack happened about 2pm Sunday - Australia Day.

The crocodile attacked and bit one boy, 12, who managed to escape - but the animal turned and snatched his friend in front of the horrified group.

After a looking at the bite marks on the first boy, Parks Australia crocodile risk management officer Garry Lindner said the croc was estimated to be 2 to 3m.

Mr Lindner said even a 2m saltwater crocodile would be very dangerous, depending on the size of the person.

"A 2.5m croc is a big croc. People say 4m is big but lets get rid of that fallacy straight up."

Townsfolk from Jabiru said it is well known that smaller crocs can be dangerous.

"All it's got to be able to do is drag you under and drown you," said a local business owner who asked to not be named.

Yesterday, Police and Parks Australia rangers in flatbed boats scoured the river all afternoon and into the darkness for any sign of the boy or the crocodile.

Searchers also undertook the dangerous task of walking along the creek's edge - while a helicopter flew back and forth conducting aerial searches - until light faded.

At first light, the search recommenced with a helicopter in the air, high enough to not disturb the waters.

Police with TRG (Territory Response Group) officers armed with .308 rifles worked a 4km stretch of the Magela creek upstream from the Oenpelli Rd, while Parks Australia rangers took to the sometimes shallow floodplain with airboats.

Veteran croc catcher and Parks Australia ranger Tommy Nichols joined the search.

[Night search croc victim]

Police and rangers search by spotlight. Picture: MICHEAL FRANCHI Source: NT News

Last night, two crocodiles were shot in the area.

"We looked at both crocs - but neither had anything in its stomach," said Jabiru police sergeant Stephen Constable.

Police said the missing boy was from Mudginberri community, while the other children were from neighbouring communities.

Distraught community members called emergency services after the attack.