VANUATU CROCODILE RESCUE
- Photo Gallery


 

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The door on the trap was down so we knew the
trap had gone off. Brian and I swam out with
goggles to check the crocodile. We instantly
realized he was larger than the 10ft. We initially
estimated him to be. He was sitting in the
trap quite relaxed and unconcerned. This
was the time we could see so clearly
underwater, that he had been shot through the eye.


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Happy that the crocodile was relatively relaxed
in the trap, Brian and I pulled it to the
only section of pebble/rock strewn beach
that we could safely restrain the crocodile.


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I used bamboo poles to secure the top jaw
ropes on the crocodile while Brian opened
and very, very quickly shut the sliding door of the trap.


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Once I was happy with the top jaw ropes,
Brian opened the door and we dragged the
crocodile onto the beach. Despite being angry,
death-rolling and snapping, he never really attacked us.


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Once he was clear of the trap on the beach,
I jumped on his head and neck, then Brian
immediately jumped on both of us to
pin us down. Our combined weight held
him down and he hardly struggled.

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I quickly secured a blindfold whilst Brian held
the powerful tail and back legs. Then I was
able to secure his jaws so he couldn't kill anyone.


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Because we had to get this crocodile into a
small aircraft to be relocated, we couldn't
put him into the standard crocodile crate.
So I designed a sock out of blue, soft, trawler
mesh that could stop him from walking,
yet allow movement and be very soft on
his skin. It's one of the simplest, yet cleverest
things I've ever designed and sewed up.

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Now that he's basically unable to bite or walk off,
I was able to conduct surgery on his eye. He
has been shot under his eyelid - the bullet went
through his jaw, taking ¾ of his eye with it. Before
leaving to catch the crocodile, Wes (Australia Zoo's
director) phoned Scott Stahl, one of the best
reptilian veterinary surgeons in the world and got me
all the equipment, medicine and knowledge
I needed to conduct surgery on the beach.
He was the perfect patient, Brian held him down
whilst I assessed the wound and worked out the
best possible procedure.

 

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I couldn't find the bullet, his eye was blown to pieces
and decaying, he had a huge cut, like a
second eye-slit, jaw damage and it was
all quite inflamed. So I very carefully flushed
his eye socket, then fully injected it with
Neosporin ointment.


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As an added bonus, I prepared a long term
antibiotic to ensure he fully recovered. I
estimated the wound to be approximately 2
months old and he was already showing signs
of healing.

 

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Brian positioned himself in case the crocodile
retaliated to my giving him the injection,
but he remained the perfect, quiet patient.

 

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He also had a bullet wound in his front leg.
The bullet had passed through and the
injury was healing nicely, so I decided to leave
it alone.

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To make the aircraft pilots more
comfortable and restrict our big
crocodile from smashing the plane to
pieces, we stitched him into my specially
designed, heavy duty, rip proof, tarpaulin.
This allowed us to bend the big old croc
around the plane's door to get him in.
We had to take out 4 seats then carefully
slide him up into the plane. Thank
goodness he was really well behaved
on the flight, because any thrashing
around would have been a little
hard on the pilots.


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Vanuatu is made up of 80 islands, stretching
over 1,000 kms. From North to South. Some of
these islands are active volcanoes. The
Saltwater Crocodiles' Eastern most point of
their range is supposedly the Northern island
of Vanua Lava, which is the closest to the Solomon
Islands, which also has a population of crocodiles.


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The entire Vanuatu Crocodile Rescue could not
have been possible without the help of these
two heroes. Roy Hills, from the Vanuatu Protected
Areas Institute and Russell Nari from the
Vanuatu Environment Unit. Not only were
they absolutely fantastic in coordinating
the logistics on the ground, they were really,
really, nice blokes. In essence, the crocodile
owes it's life to these two men.


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On arrival at Vanua Lava, the release site for the
crocodile, we received a very high honour and
the most beautiful ceremonial greeting.


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This traditional ceremony involved
receiving a wreath of flowers.

 

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With the ceremony over, we had to carry
the crocodile from the grass airstrip,
down to an awaiting boat.

 

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Brian and I located a great release
site on the Selva River, with some
very deep, dark, dirty water and
plenty of foliage hanging over the
waters edge. After flattening out
a clear area to work, we unraveled
the tarpaulins and cut the drawstrings
of the net croc sack.


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Immediately feeling the drawstrings released,
the crocodile exploded violently towards the
water, which he could obviously smell. He
virtually dragged me and Brian in with him.
We struggled into the boat as quickly as possible.
Even though he dragged us I never let go of
the top jaw rope.


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From the boat we were able to gain
the upper hand. Brian held the
top jaw ropes whilst the crocodile
death-rolled repeatedly. I had
to watch and wait to get my knife
in to cut the blindfold and ropes.

 

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He twisted so violently with
death-rolls that the tarps and
ropes were one big knot. I
readied myself for the
opportunity to cut the final ropes.

 

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She could feel freedom and hit
the side of the wooden boat
in fury as I readied my knife.

 

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Freedom, the remaining ropes simply
floated off on contact with the water.


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Our mission wasn't over. We take great pride
in covering every aspect of crocodile education.
I conducted a crocodile program based on their
community being the only ones in the whole
of Vanuatu with crocodiles within their province.


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Roy, myself, Russell and the Vanua Rescue plane
- "Crikey" we were happy that our mission went perfectly.

 

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This is an aerial shot of the Selva River release site.


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Vanuatu has another endangered species in
my opinion and that is these gorgeous
crustaceans known as Coconut Crabs.
Unfortunately for these land crabs, they
are very tasty and people are
virtually eating them into extinction.

I believe if you truly love, like, cherish
or value an animal, refuse to eat it and
tell others why you'll never eat it.


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My press conference was the perfect
end to an incredible rescue.

 

"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"


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