The Australian: Culling crocs a bone of contention in Kakadu National Park

Publish Date:
28th January 2014

by Amos Aikman

A ROW has broken out among Aborigines over whether to cull crocodiles in Kakadu National Park, in the wake of an attack that is believed to have claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy and injured a 15-year-old boy.

Representatives of one of the area's most powerful Aboriginal traditional owner groups last night said it was "high time" a cull was carried out, declaring the issue a "bone of contention" between them and the commonwealth park administrators, Parks Australia.

A spokesman for the father of the missing boy said a cull should not take place.

The incident occurred on Australia Day while five youngsters were swimming at Mudginberri billabong near the Mudginberri Aboriginal community, about 250km east of Darwin and not far from the park's main township of Jabiru.

A 15-year-old whom locals named as Jaden Djandjomerr was bitten on both arms but managed to escape; the animal turned and snatched 12-year-old Terrance Marimowa, who is still missing; the remaining children fled.

The area is controlled by the Mirrar people, one of Kakadu's most powerful Aboriginal family groups. The Mirrar are traditional owners of the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits and of Jabiru. Locals said the boys, who are cousins, had Mirrar mothers.

Speaking from a community meeting last night, Justin O'Brien, chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirrar people, said it was high time for a cull. "When the Mirrar traditional owners grew up, crocodiles were far fewer and far more afraid of people," he said. "It's a bone of contention with Parks Australia."

A spokeswoman for Parks Australia said its focus was on finding the missing child.

Liam Maher, chief executive of Djabulukgu Association Incorporated, said the missing boy's father, Jimmy, opposed a cull.