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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Australians told to be on high alert for growing, dangerous crocodile population

School children in Australia are being given an ominous message: One of nature's most efficient killers lives among them. Australia's crocodile population has reached levels not seen since hunting was banned in Australia's Northern Territory in the early 1970s. In response, school kids are taking part in a safety program called "Crocwise" after several fatal attacks in recent years and other near-misses. There is an estimated there are 130,000 saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia.

Crocodylus Park in Darwin is home to thousands of these armored-plated and supremely aggressive reptiles and is one of Australia's leading crocodile research institutions.

Crocodylus Park in Darwin is home to thousands of these armored-plated and supremely aggressive reptiles and is one of Australia's leading crocodile research institutions.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Crocodiles, Darwin, Australia, attacks, Crocwise


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Rachel Pearce, from the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, says that as crocodile numbers increase, so does the threat to residents and visitors.

"There are crocodiles in people's backyards. We get call-outs to them walking into people's lounge rooms," she said. "Lots of people here live on creeks. They have big, open houses. When the rivers rise, the crocs are able to go wherever they like and quite often they'll walk up into people's backyards looking for their dogs or different things, so they are in very close proximity with people here."

Pearce has warned schoolchildren in the town of Darwin of the dangers posed by the world's largest reptile. In her presentations, she has shown them a crocodile's skull, where rows of sharp teeth are embedded.

Crocodylus Park in Darwin is home to thousands of these armored-plated and supremely aggressive reptiles and is one of Australia's leading crocodile research institutions.

"Large animals have been known to puncture an aluminum boat - put their teeth through the hull," Charlie Manolis, chief scientist at the park says.

Authorities have also set up a 50 kilometer crocodile-free exclusion zone around heavily populated areas of Darwin and its busy harbor. Traps catch hundreds of reptiles each year and the animals are then sold to crocodile farms, which produce meat and souvenirs, including belts and handbags made from reptile skins.

Strangely, most of the victims of crocodile attacks are not tourists who ignore the warnings and stumble into trouble, but complacent locals. For many, the waterhole or creek they have swum in since they were children is now out of bounds as the crocodiles spread.

There is, on average, about one fatal crocodile attack each year.

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