Saturday, January 16

The inside story of the crocodile feud: what it’s like to catch a deadly predator


Going head-to-nose with one of the planet’s deadliest predators is often the plot of a horror movie, but for the Northern Territory government’s Crocodile Management Unit, it’s Thursday. Literally.

Last Thursday was the day the team set out to see if they could track, catch and transport a huge 15-foot saltwater crocodile that had been getting too close to the Nauiyu community on the Daly River in the region. Katherine from the top. The end.

The team, led by veteran crocodile fighter Tom Nichols and with the help of police, set a trap in the river Thursday, and on Saturday the big beast was heading to a crocodile farm.

Crocodiles like this 4.4m and 350kg specimen captured last year in the NT can pose a significant danger to local communities. (AP)

Nichols told nine.com.au that while everyone involved in the situation was well trained, there was no guarantee of safety when facing this type of predator.

“There is always an element of danger,” he said.

“You have to be careful, but everyone is trained and knows what to do.”

Mr. Nichols has been tracking and trapping crocodiles in the NT for 40 years, and became part of the Crocodile Management Unit when it was established 23 years ago.

“That’s when it became a full-time job,” he said.

The saltwater crocodile population has increased in recent years. (Terry Trewin)

And full-time experts are needed, as the nature of Mr. Nichols’ work has changed over the years.

When the trade began, the goal was to reintroduce crocodiles into the areas where they had been hunted.

But since the salty ones became a protected species in the 1970s, the population has steadily increased to booming heights, meaning the focus now was on making sure there were no dangerous “interactions” between the deadly reptiles. and the people.

Hence the need to catch the 15-foot monster that had been prowling the community.

Nichols said it was the biggest they had caught so far this year.

“The Daly River has the highest concentration of crocodiles and flooding during the rainy season brings the rivers closer to the communities,” he said.

“They were getting worried and they called the police, and the police called us.”

The team provides training, particularly to Parks and Wildlife employees.

But there is still no substitute for experts in a dangerous situation, and after 40 years of taking on some of the world’s biggest predators, Nichols still wouldn’t do it any other way.

“I’m still excited to get up in the morning with this job,” he said.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it, so I must like it.”

He urged people in the NT to be “crocodile-wise” year-round, especially during the rainy season: keep an eye on your surroundings near the water and only swim in places determined to be safe for crocodiles.


www.9news.com.au

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