Published in Reptile Care Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 4.
The first rush of crocodile hunters began in 1945. It is estimated in their first year alone, they killed around 80’000 crocodiles in the Northern Territory. This carried on right through to 1971, when a ban on the export of crocodile products was put in place. It is hard to judge exactly how many crocodiles were killed, but Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) were thought to be on the brink of extinction, with only a handful of animals left.
In 1971 they were moved to Appendix I of CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species); the same category as animals such as Pandas and Tigers. This lasted until 1986, when they moved down to Appendix II and could therefore be exported again. This time though; there were rules. Only farmed animals could be used for commercial purposes. This opened up a huge door to make way for a number of crocodile farms.
The Northern Territory has 8 Crocodile Farms, housing a total of around 100’000 crocodiles. Some of these are bred in captivity; most of the others are collected from aboriginal owned land. Crocodile farmers will pay the aboriginal people up to $20 per egg collected, giving them a substantial income. Due to this, native Australians have learnt to respect the crocodiles and live harmoniously with them, allowing the wild population to grow in numbers.
To this day crocodiles are not allowed to be hunted in Australia, and because of the legalised Crocodile Farming, there is virtually no black market. The wild population is now estimated to be over 100’000. There are several hundred Australians employed in the crocodile industry and many more Aboriginal communities who earn a living out of the farms, and in turn keep the wild populations alive.
Dr Grahame Webb, Director of Crocodylus Park has dedicated his life to the successful management and sustainable use of crocodiles. He is considered the world’s leading authority on crocodiles. Crocodylus Park continues to put thousands of dollars every year into educating the public and allowing for a better understanding of this wonderful species. Without these people, Crocodylus porosus would most like be extinct today.
By Chris Jones
Director of Pet Club UK Ltd.
For more information on crocodiles and farming methods, please visit www.petclubuk.com