July 2005
Crocs Are Smarter Than We Think

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The Sunday Mail, July 2005



News Source: The Sunday Mail, July 17 2005

CROCODILES are faster, smarter and harder to keep away from humans than we thought, a new study has found.

Research in far north Queensland has confirmed that relocating rogue estuarine crocs does not work.

The preliminary findings, gathered from nine satellite transmitters fitted to crocodiles, have shattered previous beliefs.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s Dr Mark Read said a 4.4m male that had been shifted from one side of Cape York to the other returned to within 100m of its original location.

“When they decide to come home they do so very quickly,” he said. “The one that we moved across the Cape – we put a major geographical barrier for it to go around – travelled 450km in 20 days.”

The study is a collaboration between the QPWS, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo and University of Queensland researchers.

The study found:

  • A 3.1m male that left its capture area at Weipa and swam more than 350km down the west coast of the cape, spent more than a month in another river system before returning to the original location.
  • Another croc swam more than 900km after leaving its capture location.

University of Western Sydney scientist Shelley Burgin said the findings would present huge and costly implications for managing the endangered animals.

“It means shifting rogue crocodiles – and I hate that term – may be a waste of time,” she said. “They’re protected, you can’t kill them and the croc farms don’t want a lot of males. Basically you have to cage them.”

Dr Read is pushing for a new direction in crocodile management.