Rangers had been chasing the 4.71-metre, 600-kilo saltwater croc for a decade. Tour operators and fisherman had long-reported glimpsing a monster croc near a Katherine River boat ramp, but rangers had never seen it. Then, on Monday afternoon, NT Parks and Wildlife announced that the lizard was no myth, and they’d sedated and caught the thing.
The hunt began in May when rangers first surveyed the river of the Nitmiluk National Park via helicopter. This survey is run every year before the dry season to identify crocs. And although unusual in inland NT, saltwater crocodiles are the larger, more aggressive species, and are removed before the river is opened up to swimmers in the winter.
Three saltwater crocs were spotted this year and traps were laid two weeks ago. The 4.71-metre guy was caught first, along with a much smaller one at 2.37 metres. It’s estimated the larger one is about 60 years old.
NT Parks and Wildlife rangers John Burke and Chris Heydon told the Katherine Times that it’s the biggest croc ever captured in the Katherine River. “We average a 4.2 metre croc most years, but never this big,” John told reporter Roxanne Fitzgerald.
“Even though it is dry season, crocs are around. They are always moving around regardless of the temperature,” he said. “The population is growing.”
And even though they're seasoned trappers, the rangers admitted they took no chances. “When they are this big we just sedate them, so there is no chance of us getting chomped,” said Chris Burke.