Video: WA authorities are developing a crocodile education and awareness campaign, similar to the NT.
The first crocodile safety campaign in Western Australia is being rolled out in the state’s north, in recognition of the increased risk posed by saltwater crocodiles turning up at popular swimming spots in the Kimberley.
Parks and Wildlife Service Kimberley district manager Daryl Moncrieff said the Crocwise message would be splashed across signs, brochures and school material in coming months.
“It will involve signage at entry and exit points into the Kimberley, plus at other major roads … putting signs in prominent locations to make people aware that they are entering crocodile country,” he said.
“Plus brochures certainly, even education programs in schools.
“It’s a reminder to people that the Kimberley is actually a pretty dangerous place, or northern Australia is a dangerous place when it comes to crocodiles, and people do tend to get complacent about it.”
The awareness campaign was developed in the Northern Territory several years ago, where crocodile numbers are denser and result in a larger number of fatalities.
However, a comprehensive survey of crocodiles in Kimberley waterways recently found a rapid increase in the number and size of estuarine animals in WA’s north, since hunting was banned in the mid-seventies.
“We’re noticing that the numbers are steadily increasing,” Mr Moncrieff said.
“There have been three crocodiles reported just in the last week in Roebuck Bay in Broome, and so far we’ve been able to catch one of those.”
This large saltwater crocodile was captured and relocated to a Broome crocodile park. (Instagram: mattwright1)
There are occasional calls for a cull in Kimberley towns such as Kununurra and Broome, but scientists argue the territorial nature of the animals mean those removed will be quickly replaced.
Mr Moncieff said the current policy was to trap and relocate crocodiles in populated areas, and it would be up to government to consider a change to culling.
Some Crocwise signs have already been erected on tourist track the Gibb River Road, with further permanent signage to be installed in coming weeks.