Kakadu croc warning

1 February 2006.

Kakadu rangers have warned drivers to be alert for saltwater crocodiles following an unusual incident on the Kakadu Highway, just three kilometres south of the Bowali Visitor Centre near Jabiru.

A local scientist was travelling along the Kakadu Highway with a group of Gundjeihmi traditional owners when a two metre saltwater crocodile emerged from a culvert drain and launched itself into the path of his four wheel drive.

"The croc just launched itself into the air with all four feet off the ground," Kakadu's crocodile expert Garry Lindner said. "The driver had no time to react and unfortunately the animal died on impact."

Garry Lindner said this was the latest in a series of reports from drivers who'd been confronted by crocodiles on Kakadu's roads.

"Two years ago another driver swerved to avoid a three metre crocodile on the Arnhem Highway and only just escaped plunging into the creek," Garry said

"Just last week another driver had to swerve to avoid a three metre saltie on the Arnhem Highway and he's seen another large crocodile just off the road this morning."

Crocodile deaths on Territory roads are unusual and unfortunate, but not unknown, Garry Lindner said.

"Salties are on the move at this time of year and visitors to Kakadu should be careful when driving on the roads – especially at night around creek crossings, causeways and culverts where there is a greater chance of an encounter on the road," Garry Lindner said.

During the wet season, saltwater crocodiles can move large distances, often along flooded watercourses in search of new waterbodies and potential new homes or territories. Smaller crocodiles are often forced out of their homes by larger dominant or 'boss crocs'. During these treks, they sometimes rest at night on steep banks or on the roadside near culverts and water course crossings. They may be seeking temporary respite from larger male crocodiles downstream or looking for a feed of fish that congregate in the culverts.

"Road users, fishermen and other users need to take care when accessing these areas particularly during the wet season," Garry Linder said.

"You may not see crocodiles at these roadside locations – but be cautious. Always expect that a crocodile may be in the area. Some crocs move into well known culvert fishing locations and remain there for the duration of the wet season. They are attracted – just like fisherman – to the fish."

For further information please contact Margot Marshall on (02) 6274 2068 or 0418 624 847.