A giant 5.2-metre crocodile was discovered dead in a creek near the Fitzroy River, Queensland yesterday. The croc, according to the local police, was killed with a singular gunshot wound to the head.
The large crocodile is one of the largest that has been found in the Queensland river system and because of his enormous size was responsible for keeping the river “in check." Biodiversity operations Director Michael Joyce explains to the ABC:
"People need to clearly understand the death of this animal has changed the balance of the crocodile population in the Fitzroy and we can expect increased aggressive activity by younger male crocodiles," Mr. Joyce said.
He goes on to explain that the young male crocodiles located in the river will be competing for the now vacant dominant position. He warns those who frequent the river to be even more careful.
Mr. Joyce and the department did not see the giant croc as any sort of threat to humankind.
"The simple fact of the matter is that he is a crocodile that does spend a fair bit of time controlling the river and controlling the young animals that are in the river — an important part of our ecosystem and he was certainly well outside of the crocodile management zone," he told the ABC.
Police & EHP officers are continuing to investigate after a 5.2m crocodile was found shot dead near Rockhampton yesterday. pic.twitter.com/VE3cH3aHGv
Police & EHP officers are continuing to investigate after a 5.2m crocodile was found shot dead near Rockhampton yesterday. pic.twitter.com/VE3cH3aHGv— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) September 21, 2017
He believes the croc would have “learnt” to be quite shy around people.
"He would be very cautious, and certainly he didn't come up in our latest surveys of that river," he said.
Matt Wright, National Geographic’s Outback Wrangler works daily with crocs of a similar size.
“The last thing I want to see is Crocodiles being shot in their natural habitat. They’ve been around for millions of years and have just as much right to be here as we do.”
He has spent his career fighting to change the stigma surrounding Australia’s oldest reptile:
“A lot of people just see these animals as killing machines, which is what nearly lead to their extinction at the hands of hunters, until they were protected in the 70’s.”
The perpetrator now faces a hefty $28,000 fine and possible jail time.
Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, it is an offence to take or kill any estuarine crocodile without authority. Queensland Police are appealing to the public for more information on the shooting.
"What we are doing is asking anyone with any information or knowledge on the cause of death of this animal to contact Rockhampton CIB and Crime Stoppers," Acting Detective Inspector, Luke Peachey said.
On average a male adult saltwater crocodile is around 4.3-5.2 metres long, with the largest croc ever recorded, Lolong, a Philippine croc measured at 6.17 metres long.
Lead Image:Queensland Police Service