Going head-to-snout with one of the planet’s deadliest predators is usually the plot of a horror movie – but for the Northern Territory government’s Crocodile Management Unit, it’s a Thursday. Literally.
Going head-to-snout with one of the planet's deadliest predators is usually the plot of a horror movie - but for the Northern Territory government's Crocodile Management Unit, it's a Thursday. Literally.
Last Thursday was the day the team set out to see if they could track, trap and transport a massive 4.5-metre saltwater crocodile that had been getting a little too close to the Nauiyu community on the Daly River, in the Katherine region of the Top End.
The team, led by veteran croc wrangler Tom Nichols and aided by police, set a trap in the river on Thursday - and by Saturday the big beast was on its way to a crocodile farm.
Mr Nichols told nine.com.au that even though everybody involved in the situation was well-trained, there was no guarantee of safety when coming up against this kind of apex predator.
"There's always an element of danger," he said.
"You have to be careful, but everyone's trained and they know what they have to do."
Mr Nichols has been tracking and trapping crocodiles in the NT for 40 years, becoming part of the Crocodile Management Unit when it was established 23 years ago.
"That's when it became a full-time job," he said.
And full-time experts are needed, given how the nature of Mr Nichols' job has changed over the years.
When he began the trade, the goal was to reintroduce crocodiles to areas where they had been hunted out.
But since salties were made a protected species in the 1970s, the population has steadily risen to booming heights, meaning the focus now was on making sure there wasn't any dangerous "interaction" between the deadly reptiles and people.
Hence the need to trap the 4.5-metre monster that had been lingering around the community.
Mr Nichols said it was the biggest they'd caught so far this year.
"The Daly River has the highest concentration of crocodiles, and the floods during the wet season bring the rivers up closer to the communities," he said.
"They were getting concerned and called the police, and the police called us."
The team does provide training, particularly to Parks and Wildlife employees.
But there's still no substitute for the experts in a dangerous situation - and after 40 years of tangling with some of the world's biggest predators, Mr Nichols still wouldn't have it any other way.
"I still get 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 "croc-wise" all year around, especially during the wet season - keep an eye on your surroundings near water, and only swim in places determined to be crocodile-safe.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/crocodile-wrangling-inside-story-what-its-like-to-trap-deadly-predator/c471ef97-10d0-4d43-a9ff-1cf8ce3c11c8