Crocodile numbers ‘explode’ on farm
It is best to maintain the highest levels of situational awareness when visiting Hinchinbrook Mayor Ramon Jayo's cane farm lest you cross paths with one of an "exploding" number of saltwater crocodiles residing in or beside his waterways.
The Townsville Bulletin visited Cr Jayo's Macknade 250-hectare farm near Ingham this afternoon, encountering a 3.5-metre-long male crocodile and a slightly smaller female almost immediately, just two of the estimated 10 or so salties on or bordering the property.
Cr Jayo said crocodiles were already on the farm when he purchased it 12 years ago.
"They've always been here but one of the things though is that there is more of them, a lot more," he said.
"The bottom line to me is that the numbers are exploding, what is happening is the bigger (highly territorial) animals are pushing the smaller animals further afield and that's why we are seeing more in areas that previously they would not occupy."
Cr Jayo said normally you would expect to encounter saltwater crocodiles in the mangroves "but now we're finding them in the cane paddocks, we are actually finding them and sitting, as you saw, on the headlands beside cane."
"The fact is, today if you dig a hole, tomorrow you will have a crocodile in it."
Cane farmers have recently begun digging retention ponds on their properties to prevent sedimentation and nutrients from reaching the major waterways and Great Barrier Reef.
Cr Jayo said each of the ponds on his property contained a male and at least one female saltwater crocodiles, with another four lurking in the bordering Macknade Creek, which eventually connects to the lower Herbert River.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto and his Katter's Australian Party have called for a widespread crocodile cull and has widespread support within his electorate.
Cr Jayo, however, said he did not have a problem with the animal.
"I quite like 'em, I know where they are, I know what they are doing and I quite like 'em," he said.
"But the concern is they are spreading further and further afield, they don't worry you, they don't worry me but I am concerned they are spreading into areas that people may be unaware of."
He said the consequences could be deadly.
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"It's not (the crocodile's) fault, they don't know the difference between a human and a dog, that's what they do for a living and if you're silly enough to be on the water's edge with them … we need to keep our warnings up."
The best time to view Hinchinbrook's crocodiles is on cold, sunny days when they sunned themselves at the water's edge.
The mayor said it would be ideal to develop a crocodile-watching industry in the district.
"There is potential for a massive industry to be started by someone, there are a lot of crocodile habitats throughout our district and if you don't find them in one area, you will find them in another … there's an opening there for somebody."
Originally published as Crocodile numbers 'explode' on farm