Australia’s Top End does not have a problem with crocodiles. It has a problem with greedy and vengeful humans.
ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reported on Monday that “Northern Territory Police have suspended their search for a 9-year-old boy taken by a saltwater crocodile near the eastern tip of Arnhem Land. Police say the attack happened about midday on Saturday as the boy swam with a group of children … Police say the crocodile will be destroyed if it is found.”
Such was the fate of another crocodile, who last month killed a young girl in the same general vicinity.
What’s particularly infuriating here is the fact – as reported by ABC News – that “police believe the four-metre crocodile responsible for the latest attack was regularly given food by the community.”
A follow-up report published by ABC News on Tuesday tells us that “police expect a crocodile that killed a young Northern Territory boy will return because people from a nearby community used to feed it,” and that “community members have authorised police to kill the croc if it returns.”
Australia’s Northern Territory was home to saltwater crocodiles long before the region was inhabited by aboriginal peoples and later “settled” by Europeans. And while Monday’s ABC News report points out that “crocodiles have a special religious meaning for many in Arnhem Land,” the overdue protection afforded the species in the early 1970s has since been reimagined as a “conservation program,” which in this case is a euphemism for “regulated industry.”
The Northern Territory Government’s Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2009-2014 callously promises that “the Northern Territory Government will continue to assist industry to maximize the investment, commercial activity and employment generated through crocodiles so that the industry maintains its role as a well recognised and supported part of the NT economy. The farming industry vision is for the Northern Territory to grow as a world leader in the reliable production of the highest quality Saltwater Crocodile skins.”
If there is a problem in Australia’s Northern Territory, it is human arrogance.