Education Is The Key - We Must Learn To Coexist With Nature (A Plea from North Queensland/Australia)
With this blog we would like to present a contribution from David, Daintree River Solar Whisper Wildlife & Crocodile Cruises, a small family operated business, practising true Eco Tourism in North Queensland, Australia.
For over 20 years David engages in the conservation and protection of these species, wanting to achieve a sustainable living arrangement for both, the magnificent crocodiles, the community and its visitors.
Crocodylus porosus or Saltwater Crocodile is not only the largest species of crocodile but the largest living reptile in the world. Despite being classified as “reptiles”, crocodiles (and all crocodilians, including alligators) are more closely related to dinosaurs and birds (avian dinosaurs) than to most animals classified as reptiles.
The key point is that with some sensible precautions taken, observing the warning signs and importantly common sense we can live in harmony with these amazing creatures from prehistoric times - their existence dating back to the “Cretaceous Period”.
Education is the only way humans can learn to share this planet. We must coexist because there sure are a lot of us, we are spreading while nature is retreating.
Recent headlines: “A MUCH-loved croc named Howard, whose only crime locals claim was that he was caught sunbaking, is to be removed from a Far Northern Queensland…”
All deaths are tragic, but please don’t believe the handful of backward, fact-challenged politicians looking to score political points from what is essentially a non-issue.
David’s plea to adverseries (or opponents?)
over planned removal of a crocodile named “Howard” from the Daintree River:
“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about Howard, the crocodile that’s now a wanted criminal for sunbaking. A little more explanation: Over the last 10 years Howard's favourite sunbaking spot is beside a highway, next to a cane paddock and a quarry that digs sand out of his creek. This makes him a crocodile accustomed to loud sounds so he doesn’t spook easily. Does that make him dangerous, well you show me any adult crocodile that isn’t dangerous?
Of course he’s dangerous but if we are to remove every dangerous crocodile we need to remove them ALL. And not just here because Queenslanders are still having trouble adjusting to an animal returning from the brink of extinction. The NT (Northern Territory) has already adjusted with breeding programmes, but crocodiles can travel very far so we would need to kill all those crocodiles in the NT and WA (Western Australia) for us Queenslanders to feel safe.
That’s not happening and that’s impossible. So what does that leave for us in FNQ (Far North Queensland)? How do we remain safe if we can’t kill them all? EDUCATION is the solution. Yep just like road safety, stranger danger, drink driving all those things; education is the only way to minimise accidents and fatalities. The leading scientists in human crocodile conflict have continued to advocate that education is the way to keep people safe and the NT is the prime example. We have an excellent crocodile-wise program that everyone needs to know about.
So back to Howard and yes I know sometimes crocodiles have to be removed because they stalk people, boats and so forth. But Howard has never done that, the definition of “problem” crocodile is so vague, it can be applied to any crocodile, because by their very nature they are dangerous. The access to the creek, Howards home, is private property, it's not a swimming hole nor somewhere boats go, so any danger to humans is due to trespassing. Yes, he’s visible from the road from a safe distance, but anyone that presents themselves as “food” - that is what trespassers do - they are making a poor choice putting their lives at risk.
It is a human management problem not a crocodile one. So what happens when Howards taken/killed? Is the problem solved? No, this is crocodile country! We may not like it but that's the facts, there is no gate at the front of this creek, so other crocodiles will replace Howard, science has showed us that many times. But they won’t be used to cars, trucks, diggers, so they will hide. Also it’s not their territory, they are newcomers, they are hungry they are fighting for top spot now. So the next person that tresspasses, goes down to that creek and knows Howards gone, but can’t see another crocodile they certainly put themselves in real danger. For millions of years of creating the perfect ambush predator it's not the crocodile you see that will get you, but the one you don’t see; that next person is in real trouble, the waters are more dangerous without a visible crocodile! A visible crocodile is a reminder of what lives in the waters in crocodile country.
But the government has to act because of one complaint. What if someone now goes and “presents themselves as food” and a crocodile gets them? The government has to do something, once Howard is gone they are off the hook. But once he is removed, the possibility of a fatality has increased many folds due to human complacency, but it won’t be Howard that causes it - so the government can wipe their hands once more.
Is this really the way to deal with human wildlife conflict? If it’s Howards visibility that worries the government there are non lethal ways to deter a crocodile and they should be doing this, rubber bullets, sounds etc ways to scare him and make him “hide” from us. Does any of it improves the safety of the water for us humans? NO! Stay away from Howard and waterways that are known crocodile territory and the danger is all gone. Trespassing is illegal and you are doing so at your own risk, put that sign up!
Check out this fine young man, the best example of a young person growing up in crocodile country. His attitude gives us all hope for the future. As humans continue to expand, human/ wildlife conflicts will inevitably increase. We must learn to coexist.
A 10-year-old boy has penned a letter pleading with authorities not to touch a giant crocodile that has been targeted for removal. (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-03/boy-pleads-for-minister-to-spare-crocodile/11474152)
Once upon a time the Aboriginal people lived in harmony with nature, why can’t we...
Contribution of David, Daintree River Solar Whisper Wildlife & Crocodile Cruises, Eco Tourism in North Queensland, Australia