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Management Program

for the Saltwater Crocodile


in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012-2014

Photograph: Tourism NT

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012 - 2014
Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory
Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport
PO Box 496
Palmerston NT 0831

Northern Territory of Australia


First Published 2009
Revised Draft for public comment June 2012

This work is copyright. It may be reproduced for study, research or training purposes subject to an acknowledgment of the
sources and no commercial usage or sale. Requests and enquires concerning reproduction and rights should be
addressed to the Chief Executive, Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport, PO Box 496,
Palmerston NT 0831, Australia.
Citation
Leach G.J., Delaney R. and Fukuda, Y. (2009). Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory
of Australia, 2009 - 2014. Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport, Darwin.

A management program prepared under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Program Approval
The Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012-2014
Approved by the Administrator for the Northern Territory as an approved management program under Section 34(2) of the
Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act on XXXXXXX.
Approved by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities as an Approved Wildlife Trade
Management Plan under Subsection 303FO(3) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 on
XXXXXXX.
Approval of this program is valid until 31 December 2014.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Contents
Definitions and Acronyms........................................................................................................1
1. Introduction
................................................................................................................ 3
1.1
Aims and Objectives..................................................................................................5
1.2
Species..................................................................................................................... 5
1.3
Responsible authority................................................................................................5
1.4
Legislative, national and international obligations......................................................5
1.4.1
Northern Territory...........................................................................................5
1.4.2
Commonwealth Government.........................................................................7
1.4.3
International...................................................................................................7
2. Management context.........................................................................................................9
2.1
Socio-economic values.............................................................................................9
2.1.1
Cultural values...............................................................................................9
2.1.2
Economic.......................................................................................................9
2.2
Population estimates and trends..............................................................................11
2.3
Saltwater crocodile habitat......................................................................................12
2.3.1
Protected areas...........................................................................................12
2.3.2
Significant wetlands outside reserves..........................................................14
2.4
Problem saltwater crocodiles...................................................................................14
2.5
History of use..........................................................................................................15
2.5.1
Indigenous harvest and use.........................................................................15
2.5.2
Commercial harvesting and use...................................................................15
3. Threats and impacts........................................................................................................15
3.1
Natural predators.....................................................................................................16
3.2
Drought, flood and climate change..........................................................................16
3.3
Habitat loss and modification...................................................................................16
3.4
Entanglement in fishing nets...................................................................................17
3.5
Disease...................................................................................................................17
3.6
Harvesting general...............................................................................................17
3.6.1
Harvesting genetic....................................................................................17
3.6.2
Harvesting - impacts on other species, habitats and ecosystems................17
4. Management practices and performance measures.......................................................18
Objective 1 - To facilitate the sustainable use of Saltwater Crocodiles............................18
4.1
Commercial harvest and use...................................................................................18
4.2
Permits and compliance..........................................................................................24
4.3
Management-focused research...............................................................................28
Objective 2 - To promote community awareness and public safety.................................28
4.5
Removal of problem crocodiles...............................................................................29
4.6
Community awareness and participation.................................................................35
Objective 3 - To ensure humane treatment of Saltwater Crocodiles................................36
4.7
Animal welfare.........................................................................................................36
Objective 4 - To monitor and report on the impact of the harvest of
Saltwater
Crocodiles36
4.8
Monitoring...............................................................................................................36

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

4.9

Reporting................................................................................................................. 39

5. References

.............................................................................................................. 40

Appendix 1:

Saltwater Crocodile Background Information..............................................44

Appendix 2:

Farm Management.......................................................................................49

Appendix 3:

Saltwater Crocodile Densities In The Rivers Monitored In The Northern Territory

Appendix 4:

Annual Milestone Matrix for 2012-2014 Program.........................................58

Appendix 5:

Draft Guidelines for the Safari Hunting of Crocodiles in the Northern Territory62

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

51

Definitions and Acronyms


Adults
Animals greater than 7 feet (approx. 2.1 metres) total length are classed as adults. This is a
defined size class for the purpose of this Management Program and does not equate to
sexual maturity.
CITES
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Crocodile Products and By-products
Includes all parts from a crocodile except for skins as defined below.
Crocodile Skins
Includes raw or tanned belly skins (cut along the back), hornbacks (cut along the belly) and
whole skins.
Egg Harvest
The physical removal of an egg from its natural location in the wild and transportation to
another location.
Eggs
Unless otherwise stipulated includes all eggs regardless of whether it is fertile or infertile,
with a live or dead embryo.
Eggs - dead
Eggs that are infertile or contain a dead embryo and/or discarded before placement in an
incubator.
Eggs - live
For the purposes of this Management Program these are eggs initially placed into an
incubator.
Eggs - viable
Eggs that produce a normal hatchling surviving at least one day outside the egg.
EPBC Act
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Commonwealth legislation.
Harvest Ceiling
The Northern Territorys annual maximum allowable number of individuals that can be
harvested in each of the defined life stages.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Hatchling
Animals classed as hatchlings are Young-of-the-year and typically less than 2 feet (approx.
0.6 metres) total length.
Juvenile
Animals classed as juveniles are between 2 and 7 feet (approx. 0.6 2.1 metres) total
length.
NRETAS
Northern Territory Government Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and
Sport.
Ranching
As used in the context of CITES, it is the rearing in a controlled environment of specimens
taken from the wild.

RDPIFR
Northern Territory Government Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry,
Fisheries and Resources.
Regional Catchment
Catchment(s) as defined in Australian Surface Water Management Area (2000) that are
grouped for monitoring the crocodile harvest in the Northern Territory.
Total Length
Animal length measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail.
TPWC Act
Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. Northern Territory legislation.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

1.

Introduction

Saltwater Crocodiles are and always have been serious predators. Co-existing with crocodiles
does present challenges to the Territory community. On the other hand, crocodiles also provide
significant opportunities. They are a valuable resource to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
people in northern Australia.
A lucrative and uncontrolled trade in saltwater crocodile skins between 1945 and 1971
stimulated intensive hunting that depleted the wild populations to the point of extinction. It was
unclear whether the remaining crocodile population had the capacity to recover when full
protection of the species was introduced in 1971.
By 1979/80, when the population had increased from an estimated base of 5,000 to around
30,000 (Webb et al 1984), a series of fatal and non-fatal attacks occurred in 12 months, along
with an increase in other incidents such as attacks on fishing boats. These negative
interactions with people threatened the conservation program, which was aimed at rebuilding
the wild population back to carrying capacity. Some people opposed any further expansion of
crocodile numbers and widespread culling was actively promoted.
In the early 1980s the Northern Territory Government implemented an incentive-driven
conservation strategy, to inform the public of the environmental and economic benefits of
crocodile conservation. Positive incentives were created through commercial activity (tourism,
crocodile farming and ranching) and negative incentives countered by an active Problem
Crocodile control program. In such an incentive-driven conservation program, there are two
fundamental approaches. The first is to ensure that conservation objectives are being met, and
the second is to ensure the incentives for conservation are maintained. It is not a case of
conservation versus development but rather both benefiting from successful conservation.
Ranching of eggs (the commercial collection of eggs from the wild and raising into hatchlings)
was considered to be the safest strategy for sustainable use to reward landowners for
tolerating crocodiles. This is because the egg stage is an abundant and naturally vulnerable
part of the life cycle. Furthermore, it resulted in nesting habitat on private lands becoming a
commercial asset worth protecting.
In 1985 Australia was successful in having its population of Saltwater Crocodiles transferred
from Appendix I to Appendix II of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) specifically for ranching so that farms could export the skins
produced from the harvested eggs they bought from landowners. In 1987, the first NT crocodile
management program was approved by the Commonwealth and skins derived from the
ranching program began to be exported. In 1994, Australia obtained an unrestricted Appendix II
CITES listing to allow landowners with crocodiles, but no nesting habitat, to also receive
commercial benefits from crocodiles through a wild harvest.
The Northern Territory Government has fostered the crocodile farming industry and in recent
years the NT industry has significantly invested in crocodile farming infrastructure to increase
their capacity. The resultant increased competition for eggs has increased prices for
landowners, including for Aboriginal people in remote areas where opportunities for economic
development are sometimes limited. Skin exports are rising and are predicted to rise sharply in
future years.
This incentive-driven wildlife program has been a major conservation success story that is
seldom played out with large and dangerous predators anywhere in the world. Saltwater
Crocodiles are no longer a threatened species in the NT and have recovered such that they

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

are now abundant. Saltwater Crocodiles are viewed as a valuable commercial resource,
generating wealth and employment which promotes their conservation. The continuation of a
viable and economic crocodile farming industry is recognised as the key economic driver for
this Management Program. The tourism value of crocodiles both in the wild and in captivity
also generates economic activity around the presence of crocodiles in the landscape. The
economic value of the crocodile egg harvest is also resulting in environmental gains through
improved management practices for weeds, feral animals and fire by landowners to favour
crocodile nesting habitat. The Management Program through incentive driven conservation,
explicitly encourages management practices that favour the Saltwater Crocodile and protects
wetland habitats beyond the boundaries of parks and reserves.
Through this Management Program and other strategies, the Northern Territory Government
will continue to assist industry to maximise the investment, commercial activity and
employment generated through crocodiles so that the industry maintains its role as a well
recognised and supported part of the NT economy. The farming industry vision is for the
Northern Territory to grow as a world leader in the reliable production of the highest quality
Saltwater Crocodile skins.
Actions that favour retaining a high abundance of a dangerous predator such as Saltwater
Crocodiles bring a heightened responsibility for public awareness and education. The changing
circumstances that drove the need for the revised Management Program include:
i)

An increase in the number of landowners wanting to participate in the crocodile


industry;

ii) An increasing crocodile population;


iii) An expansion of farming capacity;
iv) A recognition that previous harvest levels have not been detrimental to the species;
v) An increase in the negative interactions between crocodiles and people; and
vi) An increasing need for public awareness about crocodiles.
This Management Program addresses the balance that is required between conservation
goals, sustainable harvest, growing industry, and maintaining public safety. It focuses on
mechanisms to improve public awareness and safety, on population dynamics, harvest limits
and monitoring the impact of the harvest on population trends.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

1.1

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this management program is:


To ensure the long-term conservation of the Saltwater Crocodile and its habitats in the
Northern Territory.
The program has four principal objectives:
1.

To facilitate the sustainable use of Saltwater Crocodiles;

2.

To promote community awareness and public safety;

3.

To ensure the humane treatment of Saltwater Crocodiles; and

4.

To monitor and report on the impact of the harvest of Saltwater Crocodiles.

1.2

Species

The Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus Schneider) is one of two species of crocodile
found in Australia; the other being the smaller Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni).
Subspecies or races have not been described. Further details on the status and ecology of
the Saltwater Crocodile are provided in Appendix 1.

1.3

Responsible authority

The Northern Territory Government through the Department of Natural Resources,


Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS) manage wildlife in the Northern Territory pursuant
to the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation (TWPC) Act. The control of all aspects of the
harvest from the wild in the Northern Territory is administered under this legislation. Once
animals are contained in a farm, the Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry,
Fisheries and Resources (RDPIFR) has the administrative role for crocodile farming. These
responsibilities are outlined in Appendix 2.

1.4

Legislative, national and international obligations

1.4.1 Northern Territory


Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation (TPWC) Act
The TPWC Act contains provisions for the management and conservation of native animals
including Saltwater Crocodiles. The Saltwater Crocodile is classified as protected wildlife
throughout the Northern Territory under Section 43 of the TPWC Act. Section 66 of the Act
prohibits the taking or interfering with protected wildlife without a permit issued by the Director
of the Parks and Wildlife Commission or their delegate. It is also an offence under Section 66
of the Act to possess or trade in live or dead crocodiles, crocodile eggs or parts of crocodiles
without a permit. The Saltwater Crocodile is not classified as threatened in the Northern
Territory. It has recovered from the very low population numbers in the 1970s to now being
considered a widespread and abundant species and not of any conservation concern.
It is an offence to possess live Saltwater Crocodiles or their eggs except in accordance with a
permit issued under Section 43 of the TPWC Act by the Director of the Parks and Wildlife
Commission or their delegate (Section 66(2)).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Permits to possess and/or trade in crocodiles may be issued by the Director of the Parks and
Wildlife Commission or a delegate in accordance with Sections 55, 56 and 57 of the TPWC
Act. The Director may under Section 57 of the Act apply terms, conditions or limitations to the
permit to regulate the harvesting and farming of crocodiles.
The taking of wildlife by Aboriginal people for traditional purposes, including food, is provided
for under Section 122 of the TPWC Act. Aboriginal people are not bound by hunting regulations
or seasons when taking animals for food or other traditional purposes.
Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act ensures that animals are treated humanely; cruelty to animals is
prevented and community awareness about the welfare of animals is promoted. Crocodiles
held in captivity under permit are classified as stock animals under the Animal Welfare Act and
persons must not neglect, or commit an act of cruelty that causes an animal unnecessary
suffering.
Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles
Animal welfare standards for crocodiles are detailed in this Code. All crocodiles must be
managed in accordance with this Code.
http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/trade-use/publications/crocodile-code-of-practice.html

Environmental Assessment Act


New developments for the farming, processing and display of crocodiles will need to meet the
requirements of this Act.
Meat Industries Act
Farmed crocodiles may be slaughtered in abattoirs licensed for the slaughter of crocodiles. In
addition, the Saltwater Crocodile was declared as a game animal on 10 June 2004 (G24)
under the Meat Industries Act which enables crocodiles killed in the wild to be slaughtered for
human consumption in licensed game meat abattoirs according to the national code of practice
for the slaughter of game animals.
Food Act
Crocodile meat is sold for human consumption and this Act provides for the safety and
suitability of food for human consumption.
Livestock Act
Farmed crocodiles are treated as livestock under this Act which provides for disease
surveillance, disease control, identifying and tracing animals and regulating movement of
animals and animal products for the purpose of disease control
Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan for the Northern Territory: sustaining our
resources people, country and enterprises.
This Northern Territory Government endorsed plan provides the broad framework and a series
of actions directly contributing to the conservation of Saltwater Crocodile habitat and for the
sustainable use of wildlife such as Saltwater Crocodiles.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

1.4.2

Commonwealth Government

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act


The EPBC Act regulates imports and exports to and from Australia of all Australian native
animals or their parts. The Saltwater Crocodile is a listed marine species under the EPBC Act.
This protects the species and limits the circumstances under which they may be taken. Part
13A of the EPBC Act regulates imports and exports of crocodiles and crocodile products. It
also fulfils Australias legislative requirements as a signatory party to CITES (see 1.4.3).
Section 303CH lists specific conditions that must be met for the export or import of CITES
specimens. For CITES Appendix II exports the specimen must be sourced from an appropriate
captive breeding or artificial propagation program, an approved wildlife trade operation, or an
approved wildlife trade management plan.
This Northern Territory Management Program meets the requirements of the EPBC Act for both
international and national activities with Saltwater Crocodiles. This management program
therefore complies with an approved Commonwealth wildlife trade management plan pursuant
to Section 303FO of the EPBC Act. Commercial export permits for crocodiles are issued under
Section 303CG.
A State/Territory management program for wild populations is not required if a State/Territory
elects to limit use to captive breeding. However, even crocodile farms based solely on
captive breeding in Australia have to be registered under the EPBC Act before permission to
export products is granted.
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act
This Act establishes the Land Councils. A function of the Land Councils is that they confirm
the correct landholders (traditional owners) have given their permission for any commercial
wildlife harvest before TPWC Act permits can be issued. This Act also provides for Section
19 Land Use Agreements which should be in place for commercial crocodile harvesting.
These agreements can provide the conditions of access to land for the purpose of harvesting
and there should be consistency between ALR Act Land Use Agreements and TPWC Act
permits.
1.4.3

International

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
All Crocodilians (including alligators, caimans and true crocodiles) are listed on the Appendices
of CITES to which Australia is signatory. Those species most threatened in the wild by trade
are listed on Appendix I and all remaining species are listed on Appendix II. In most countries
C. porosus is listed on Appendix I. However the Australian, Indonesian and Papua New
Guinean populations are included in Appendix II which allows international trade subject to the
provisions of CITES. The Appendix II listing places controls on international trade in crocodiles
and crocodile products through export permits. A CITES export permit is required for all
commercial exports and can only be issued if it has been determined that the export will not be
detrimental to the survival of the species and that the specimen was legally obtained.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention)


Australia is also a signatory to the Ramsar Convention. There are plans of management for
two of the three Ramsar-listed areas of the Northern Territory (Stages one and two of Kakadu
National Park) which protect wetlands and their dependent fauna, including Saltwater
Crocodiles. NRETAS is currently developing a plan of management for Cobourg Peninsula
(Garig Gunak Barlu National Park).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

2.

Management context

2.1

Socio-economic values

In the Northern Territory, crocodiles are an iconic species that attract considerable publicity
and a wide range of community views and opinions regarding their abundance, distribution
and cultural and economic importance. Public and political will to continue conserving
crocodiles and their habitats is closely linked to the net community value of crocodiles being
positive.
2.1.1

Cultural values

The importance of crocodiles in Aboriginal culture is reflected in a complex system of totems


and ceremonies which is still evident among most coastal Aboriginal communities in northern
Australia today (Lanhupuy 1987). Aboriginal communities also regard Saltwater Crocodiles
as dangerous animals. The non-Indigenous community has a diversity of views on Saltwater
Crocodiles from being reviled and seen as dangerous pests to being admired and recognised
as having a significant and rightful place in the natural world. Crocodiles are an important
natural resource for many sectors including Aboriginal communities, the tourist industry and
the crocodile farming industry.
2.1.2

Economic

Harvesting
The harvesting of crocodiles primarily for their skins but also for their flesh and body parts
supports a significant industry in the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory Government determines the sustainable limits of the harvest and
submits the Management Program to the Australian Government for endorsement (see
section 1.4.2). The landholder has control over access to the resource. The landholder can
therefore decide to:

allow or not allow harvest

conduct their own harvest or give approval for a third party to conduct the harvest

determine the level and form of payment for access to the resource

determine any conditions (within legal requirements) they wish to impose on access to
the resource.

Egg harvest
The mainstay of the crocodile farming industry is the harvest of eggs from the wild under an
annual ranching program. This harvest has operated continuously since the first small trial
harvest was conducted in the 1983/84 nesting season. The annual harvest of 50,000 live
eggs provides a significant employment and commercial opportunity to landholders, in
particular remote Indigenous communities. Although some farms maintain a capacity for
captive breeding, the number of eggs generated from captive breeding is less than the wild
harvest. During the life of this program, the wild harvest of eggs will continue to be the
predominant form of harvest.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Animal harvest
In 1994 all restrictions and conditions on the CITES listing of the Australian population of
Saltwater crocodile were removed, which allowed commercial harvesting to expand from the
ranching of eggs to the take of hatchlings, juveniles and adults. However, the commercial
interest in the harvest of these stages has been small. For example, although there was a
quota in the previous Management Program for 500 adults, the commercial take of adults has
been less than 100 animals each year for the last six years. The previous plan was approved
subject to the safari hunting component being removed. This plan proposes that 50 of the 500
adults be taken for safari hunting.
Safari hunting is a specialised form of wild animal harvest where a paying client undertakes the
harvest. The Northern Territory Government supports safari hunting, particularly in remote
areas, and recognises that it must be strictly controlled with all activities conforming to the
highest possible standards of animal welfare and stewardship of the environment. During the
life of this Management Program the Northern Territory Government will trial a framework for
safari hunting with an emphasis on the opportunities for Indigenous participation, employment
and benefit. Benefits to landholders that flow from safari hunting of crocodiles will be
considerable, particularly for Aboriginal landholders and those who currently host or run their
own pig, banteng and buffalo safari hunting operations.
Safari hunting of banteng, buffalo and pigs already attracts local and interstate hunters who
pay not only trophy fees but also for accommodation and other expenses. Safari hunting
operations currently provide trophy fees of up to $1,500 per buffalo and $2,900 per banteng to
Aboriginal landholders. Further, safari operations on Aboriginal land may provide employment
opportunities for Aboriginal landholders in safari operations; either those run by third-party
operators or by Indigenous groups.
The inclusion of crocodile safari hunting is expected to increase domestic and international
interest in the Northern Territorys existing safari hunting industry. Safari hunting of crocodiles
will increase the financial benefits of the current wild harvesting program and will provide a
much greater return per animal than other wild harvesting. Safari hunting of crocodiles is
projected to provide trophy fees of $5,000 to $10,000 per crocodile to landholders (Indigenous
and non-Indigenous). Crocodiles taken by safari hunters will be taken within the current quota
for wild harvesting of adult crocodiles. Given the financial gains that are likely to accrue, it is
expected that safari hunting will increase the incentive for landholders to protect crocodiles and
crocodile habitats. Safari hunting should not be used as a means of controlling problem
crocodiles.
The Northern Territorys crocodile management program provides an incentive for Aboriginal
communities and land managers to conserve crocodile breeding habitats through payments to
landholders by harvesters for each egg or animal collected from their property.
There is a small demand for crocodiles as pets and legally acquired stock can be held as pets
under a set of special conditions. A permit to keep is required as detailed under section 4.2.2.
Farming
The NT position in the world market for farmed crocodile skins is small but occupies an
important and significant niche in supplying premium grade skins for high end market fashion
accessories. Between 2003 and 2007 the Northern Territory exported on average

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

approximately 6,000 skins per year both interstate and internationally. Recent farm
infrastructure expansion and increasing holdings of animals indicates this number will
increase significantly. The meat and other products of crocodiles such as teeth and skulls are
also marketed. Whilst the farming industry is small in number of businesses, it is substantial
in economic output with an annual turnover in the order of several tens of millions of dollars.
There are currently six functional crocodile farms in the Northern Territory, which collectively
held approximately 86,000 non-hatchling C. porosus as at end of December 2008. The
Northern Territory crocodile industry currently directly employs between 60 100 people.
Tourism
Crocodiles contribute significantly to visitor knowledge of the Top End and viewing crocodiles is
an important expectation or even a must for most Top End visitors. In visitor surveys,
Tremblay (2003) reported that seeing crocodiles dominates the best experiences in wildlifeviewing. While tourists generally prefer to see crocodiles in the wild and this is an increasingly
sought after experience, attractions featuring captive crocodiles are also rated highly and are
popular destinations. The Top End offers a wide range of experiences from observing in the
wild; modified behaviour in the wild; research/educational displays and captive encounters.

2.2

Population estimates and trends

In the Northern Territory, unregulated commercial hunting of C. porosus began in 1945 and
continued until 1971 when the species was protected due to the marked decline of the
population. After protection in 1971, the population of C. porosus in the Northern Territory
increased from approximately 3,000 non-hatchlings (individuals >0.6 m total length) in 1971
to between 30,000 and 40,000 individuals in 1984 (Webb et al. 1984). The population of wild
non-hatchling C. porosus has continued to increase and in 1994 was estimated to be
between 70,000 and 75,000 non-hatchling individuals (Webb et al. 1994).
The current survey and monitoring data provides a measure of the population trend at the
sampling sites and by extrapolation a demonstration of the trend for the total population. The
principal purpose of monitoring the wild population is to provide an objective means through
which any serious general or local decline, due to any cause, can be detected in sufficient time
to effect remedial action. The monitoring program also allows rates of change of population
size and structure (proportion of different size classes and biomass) to be quantified and
assessed, thereby providing an objective basis for adjusting harvest levels as necessary.
Details of the long-term population trends are shown in Appendix 3. These statistics do not
provide a measure of the total number in the population nor is such a statistic required for
management purposes.
The population of Saltwater Crocodiles in the Northern Territory continues to increase as
demonstrated by the trend in the pooled data from monitored rivers (Figure 1) and individual
rivers (Appendix 3). In some rivers rates of increase have recently slowed and may be
approaching relatively stable levels (Delaney et al. 2008; Fukuda et al in prep). There is no
suggestion that population trends differ among rivers in catchments that are unharvested,
partially harvested, or subject to harvest throughout their area (Appendix 3).
The continuing increase in the Saltwater Crocodile population is also demonstrated by:

The biomass of crocodiles in some of these rivers continues to increase, including rivers
in which increase in numbers is levelling off (Appendix 3). This is consistent with the

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

expectation of the maturing size and age structure of a large, slow-growing species that
is recovering from the threshold of extinction in the 1970s.

The distribution of Saltwater Crocodiles is expanding upstream to recolonise accessible


freshwater habitats in the Northern Territory (Letnic and Connors 2006).

There is an increase in the number of crocodiles that are living in other marginal habitat,
such as the coasts and seas (Nichols and Letnic 2008).

The number of crocodiles removed from the Intensively Managed zone in the Darwin
Harbour has increased in recent years (Section 2.4), indicating that animals in expanding
populations continue to disperse in search of living areas (Delaney et al. 2008).

Non-hatchling density (sightings/km)

16.00
14.00
12.00
10.00
8.00
6.00
4.00
2.00
0.00
1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Figure 1: Density of non-hatchling (> 2 ft (= 60 cm) including eyes-only) C. porosus calculated from standardised
spotlight surveys in 12 tidal rivers. Protection was in 1971. Closed symbols are from the Mary River and open
symbols from all other rivers.

2.3

Saltwater crocodile habitat

2.3.1

Protected areas

Formal protected areas in the Northern Territory provide a mosaic of secure areas in which
Saltwater Crocodiles and their riparian and wetland habitats are protected. They also provide
areas where the public can view and learn about crocodiles and their conservation.
Significant areas of potential suitable crocodile habitat were identified by overlaying
hydrography and vegetation layers on the reserve system boundaries in GIS
(Table 1, Figure 2).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 1: Protected areas in the NT with significant potential areas of suitable habitat for
C. porosus
Area
Name
Suitable habitat (km2)
(km2)
Kakadu National Park
19 068
2 730
Mary River National Park
1 217
680
Djukbinj National Park
553
330
Garig Gunak Barlu National Park
2 063
310
Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve
121
80
Litchfield National Park
1 459
40
Vernon Islands Conservation Reserve
33
30
Harrison Dam Conservation Area
32
30
Melacca Swamp Conservation Area
23
20
Keep River National Park
314
20
Figure 2 shows the predicted favourable Saltwater Crocodile habitat in the Reserve system.
The commercial harvest of C. porosus is currently permitted within Djukbinj, Harrison Dam and
Melacca Swamp protected areas but is not permitted within Kakadu, Mary River, Shoal Bay,
Litchfield, Vernon Islands and Keep River. Saltwater Crocodiles are actively trapped from
specific sites in Nitmiluk, Flora, Shoal Bay and Litchfield National Parks as a public safety
measure.

Figure 2: Suitable Saltwater Crocodile habitat in the Northern Territory reserve system predicted from
hydrography and vegetation layers in GEODATA TOPO 250K Series 3. Suitable habitat are defined by favourable
water body types (land subject to inundation, marine swamp, saline coastal flat, swamp, perennial lake, perennial
watercourses, and mangrove) mapped to 100 km from the coastline.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

No harvesting is permitted in Kakadu National Park so it is of particular significance as a


protected area for crocodiles given the area of suitable crocodile habitat within this Park.
2.3.2

Significant wetlands outside reserves

A major part of the range of C. porosus in the Northern Territory also lies within either
Aboriginal Lands or pastoral lands. Pastoralists, local communities and/or their legal
representatives support the maintenance of Saltwater Crocodile habitat by controlling activities
likely to be detrimental to the long-term conservation of Saltwater Crocodiles. These protocols
and restrictions offer significant protection for wetland areas.

2.4

Problem saltwater crocodiles

One of the most practical and effective responses to improve public safety is to remove
crocodiles in areas of high risk for people. Provision has been made for problem crocodile
removal in previous Management Programs and crocodiles are removed from areas where
they may cause harm to people and their property.
Problem crocodiles are defined broadly as those individuals where one or more of the
following applies:

The crocodile has attacked or is about to attack a person or persons;


The crocodile is behaving aggressively towards a person or persons;
The location of the crocodile makes it a threat or potential threat to human safety or
wellbeing; or
The activity of the crocodile is affecting the productivity of industry or commercial
enterprises.

The program allows for problem crocodiles to be killed and used directly for skin and meat
production or captured and used as stock in crocodile farms. Because released crocodiles tend
to return quite rapidly to sites of capture (Walsh and Whitehead 1993) and transport and
handling is stressful and costly, problem crocodiles are not relocated.
The number of animals that have been captured each year under the problem crocodile
program has varied over time (Table 2). This variation is likely to reflect both the increase in the
general crocodile population and fluctuations in crocodile activity between years owing to
climatic variability (Nichols and Letnic 2008). These figures include crocodiles captured from
Darwin Harbour (including Shoal Bay and some tributaries), the Darwin rural area, as well as
some from Katherine and other populated or recreation areas.
Table 2: The number of problem C. porosus removed by Parks and Wildlife staff each
financial year between 1999 and 2008.
Year
1998/1999
1999/2000
2000/2001
2001/2002
2002/2003

Problem Crocodiles
112
152
182
147
180

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Year
2003/2004
2004/2005
2005/2006
2006/2007
2007/2008

Problem Crocodiles
222
224
236
247
204

2.5

History of use

2.5.1

Indigenous harvest and use

Crocodile meat and eggs are thought to have been used as a food source by Aboriginal
people for up to 40,000 years (McBryde 1979, Flood 1983). The value of eggs to Indigenous
communities lay in the protein they provided to people. In the initial phases of the Northern
Territory program in the 1970s nests were bought from landowners for 12 dozen chicken
eggs to compensate for the lost nutritional value (G. Webb pers. comm.).
Section 122 of the TPWC Act maintains the right for customary harvest (other than for the
purpose of sale) of crocodiles and their eggs by Aboriginal people. The number of eggs and
non-hatchling crocodiles traditionally harvested annually in 1990s was estimated to be
around 2,000 individuals (PWCNT 1998). Based on surveys conducted in central Arnhem
Land between 2003-4, the subsistence use of crocodiles in areas where they are relatively
abundant is negligible (A Griffiths (NRETAS), G Wightman (NRETAS) and J Altman (ANU),
pers. comm.). This outcome is similar to surveys conducted in 1980 at the same location
(Altman 1987). The declining subsistence use of crocodiles is likely to be an interplay
between retaining crocodiles because of their commercial value and a shift to preferred meat
sources such as buffalo, pig and wallaby. No dedicated monitoring is required for subsistence
use of crocodiles.
2.5.2

Commercial harvesting and use

Saltwater Crocodiles were commercially hunted in the Northern Territory before they were
protected in 1971. Experimental egg harvests commenced in 1983 for C. porosus and
ranching operations with CITES approval commenced in 1987. Initial management programs
for crocodiles (C. porosus and C. johnstoni) in the Northern Territory included harvest of
eggs, hatchlings, juveniles and adults from the wild to rear in captivity for production. The
1998 management program (PWCNT 1998) also allowed non-hatchlings to enter trade
directly after harvesting, without the need to spend time in a farm. However, the poor quality
of skins from wild animals means this source is rarely used. Numbers harvested increased
from 17 individuals in 1997 to 158 individuals in 2001 but subsequently reduced to 65
individuals in 2007. This does not include problem crocodiles removed by NRETAS. The
harvest of eggs is a critical component of the Northern Territory crocodile industry. Since
farming started in the early 1980s, the total number of eggs collected has increased from 135
in 1984 to a maximum of 40,702 in 2006-07.

3.

Threats and impacts

Existing patterns of land use (chiefly pastoral, reserves and Indigenous lands) are generally
consistent with retaining large wetland areas and their dependent crocodile populations.
Groombridge (1987) and Jenkins (1987) have detailed potential threats to crocodile
populations worldwide. As with all crocodilian species, most threats (direct and indirect)
impacting C. porosus are anthropogenic in origin. Within the life of this program there are no
perceived or likely threats to the conservation status of C. porosus in the Northern Territory and
all predictions indicate that the species will continue to be abundant. The impact of climate
change through changes in sea levels, rainfall patterns and probable vegetation changes is an
unquantified and largely unknown impact on the Saltwater Crocodile. The public demands for
more intense crocodile management in areas close to human habitation will result in the

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

localised removal of increased numbers of animals. However, real or perceived changes to


public attitudes and any subsequent reduced tolerance of crocodiles will not impact on the
broad-scale maintenance of a viable Northern Territory-wide population of Saltwater
Crocodiles.

3.1

Natural predators

The only significant predator of adult crocodiles apart from humans is other crocodiles with
larger Saltwater Crocodiles eating small animals of both species. There are predators of young
hatchlings such as fish (e.g. barramundi) and birds (e.g. Black-necked Stork) and other species
such as Goannas can be predators of eggs. Saltwater Crocodiles are thought to be little
affected by Cane Toad (Rhinella marina, formerly Bufo marinus) poisoning (van Dam et al.
2002; Letnic 2008), possibly because the species is continuously distributed from Australia to
south-east Asia where other related toad species are also found.

3.2

Drought, flood and climate change

Drought can have a significant but not long-lasting impact on C. porosus populations unless
coupled with other factors. Heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding, particularly associated with
cyclones can cause localised egg and juvenile mortality (Webb and Smith 1987).
One of the major effects of climate change is an anticipated rise in sea level with
conservative estimates (Hennessy et al. 2004, 2007) anticipating an increase in sea level of
50 centimetres by 2100 and a corresponding loss of coastal floodplain systems and wetland
habitat. These calculations do not take into account other anticipated and compounding
changes such as further saltwater intrusion or changes in hydrology and in weed and feral
animal distributions and increased temperature. As temperature determines the sex of
hatchlings, long-term temperature changes could also effect the population structure. The
predictions of more frequent and intense dry season wildfires and severe storm events may
have negative impacts on nesting vegetation, food sources and survivorship rates. However,
changes may also create opportunities for crocodiles to expand their distribution. The
possible impacts of climate change remain in the realm of prediction and modeling and over
a time frame much longer than the life of this Management Program. As such they cannot be
mitigated within this program but monitoring should be capable of detecting significant
population changes through whatever cause.

3.3

Habitat loss and modification

The habitats of C. porosus in the Northern Territory are generally not threatened by
development although current and proposed clearing in the Daly and Katherine regions may
have indirect long-term impacts. There is anecdotal evidence that Saltwater Crocodiles are
affected by the invasion of freshwater wetlands by introduced plants such as Mimosa pigra
including through reducing the availability of nesting habitat. Anecdotal reports indicate that the
removal of Mimosa is likely to increase Magpie Geese and crocodile nesting. Since the 1970s,
disturbance of floodplain habitats by feral buffalo was greatly reduced following eradication
campaigns with a resultant improvement in nesting habitat. There are increasing numbers of
buffalo and pig which will cause concern as these negatively impact on nesting vegetation. The
increasing value of crocodile eggs is encouraging improved control of M. pigra, feral herbivores
and fire by landowners to favour crocodile nesting habitat (RMCG 2008).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

3.4

Entanglement in fishing nets

Entanglement in fishing nets is known to cause crocodile deaths in Australia. Losses of C.


porosus due to accidental capture and drowning in barramundi fishing nets were
documented and assessed in the early 1980s (Webb et al. 1984). Since these surveys
commercial fishing has been banned within a number of river systems that are important
nesting habitats for C. porosus, such as the Mary, Roper and Alligator Rivers. Fishermen are
not permitted to use wild crocodiles that drown in their nets. Recent internal RDPIFR reports
show that crocodile mortality due to drowning in fishing nets during 2007 and 2008 was less
than 30 individuals.

3.5

Disease

There appear to be no significant diseases of wild crocodiles that present a major threat to
the wild population. Intensive animal husbandry of any species can create conditions which
lead to high mortality due to disease and this is true for crocodiles. There were significant
hatchling losses in some farms due to a disease outbreak in 2006.

3.6

Harvesting general

Over the 25 years of harvesting in the Northern Territory it is clear that the harvest has been
managed to deliver the primary objectives of sustainable, viable crocodile populations
(Appendix 3). The harvest has not been a threat to the species.
3.6.1

Harvesting genetic

The harvest of crocodiles and crocodile eggs is widely dispersed and unlikely to have an
impact on the genetic integrity of the population.
3.6.2

Harvesting - impacts on other species, habitats and ecosystems

Most eggs are collected by helicopter, which has no impact on soil erosion, water bodies,
watercourses, wetlands or drainage systems. The very small numbers of eggs and nonhatchling crocodiles taken, mostly by boat, mean that these operations also do not
significantly adversely impact the habitat.
There is no evidence or expectation that the commercial harvest is likely to have any impacts
on threatened species or ecological communities of conservation significance or that it will
cause disturbance or displacement to native fauna. Similarly there is no evidence as yet that
commercial harvest helps introduce or disperse invasive weeds although there is a possibility
that the floats of helicopters could be a vector for aquatic weeds such as Salvinia or
Eichhornia. It is becoming apparent that landholders are increasingly managing land to
favour crocodile nesting habitat which means efforts to reduce mimosa, pigs and buffalo, and
to manage fire will favour establishing nesting vegetation. Large crocodiles take introduced
herbivores such as buffalo, cattle and pigs but the overall impact on these feral populations is
probably negligible.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

4.

Management practices and performance


measures

To achieve the aims and objectives of this management program, NRETAS in conjunction with
RDPIFR implements a range of management practices to control the harvest, farming and
trade of Saltwater Crocodiles in accord with the TPWC Act and the EPBC Act. Performance
indicators are provided for each management practice. The milestones and performance
measures for the life of this program are summarised in Appendix 4.

Objective 1 - To facilitate the sustainable use of Saltwater


Crocodiles
4.1

Commercial harvest and use

Restrictions on live animal harvesting


The Northern Territory Government will seek to maintain the presence of a visible crocodile
population and large iconic (generally 4.5 m) individuals through the creation of zones where
harvesting of life cycle stages other than eggs is restricted. Harvesting will be prohibited or
restricted in some areas or circumstances if necessary to maintain local or regional populations
or to maintain non-use benefits from the species. Large individuals can be removed wherever
there is a public safety or livestock concern. In general, harvesting of juvenile and adult
crocodiles will not normally be permitted:
1. In waterways where the watercourse forms the boundary between two or more properties.
2. In catchments that are heavily used by the tourism and fishing industry e.g. the Mary River
catchment downstream of the Arnhem Highway, the Adelaide River catchment
downstream of the Marrakai Crossing, the East Alligator River, and the Daly River
catchment west of Oolloo Crossing. Where low level harvest is permitted such as for
skins, farms or for safari hunting, it will be strongly regulated to ensure that tourism
interests are not damaged.
3. From sites where crocodiles are particularly significant to local Indigenous people.
Performance Indicator
Ensure all harvest permits minimise the possible negative impact on, or conflict with, tourism,
social or cultural interests.
Harvest ceiling
The harvest ceilings covering both eggs and animals that have developed through previous
management programs were based on an adaptive management approach through
implementation of a conservative harvest, monitoring the impact of that harvest and
subsequent adjustment of the harvest. The harvest ceilings were set well above what was
anticipated to be collected and well within what was considered sustainable.
The total number of C. porosus that can be taken commercially within the Northern Territory
in a financial year, or for eggs during a nesting season, within this program is shown in Table
3. There is no requirement for the Northern Territory Government to allow the full harvest
ceiling to be taken in any year.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 3: Annual ceiling for the harvesting of crocodiles and their eggs from the wild. Numbers
are set for the financial year to include the nesting season. The egg ceiling is based
on live eggs.
Stock
Eggs
Hatchlings
Juveniles
Adults
1

2009/2010
50,000
500
400
500

2010/2011
50,000
500
400
500

2011/20121
60,000
500
400
500

2012/2013
60,000
500
400
500

2013/2014
70,000
500
400
500

The egg ceiling shown in 2011, 2012, and 2013 is an indicative increment based on appropriate monitoring

results and sustainability considerations.

Egg Harvest
The use of egg numbers as the basic measurement of the egg harvest has remained
unchanged and will continue in this program. The harvest ceiling permits and egg allocation
will be based on live eggs (see definitions). This change addresses concerns from both
industry and regulators. A practical compliance measure at an early stage in the
harvest/farming process is now the measure of eggs placed into the incubator. Royalties to
the Northern Territory Government will continue to be based on viable eggs.
The natural mortality of eggs in the wild is usually high but varies depending on the weather
(Webb and Manolis 1993). It has been suggested that the mortality of crocodiles at each stage
of their life cycle (hatchling, juvenile and adult) is partially dependent on the density of larger
crocodiles that prey upon and competitively exclude smaller crocodiles (Webb and Manolis
1993). Because a very low percentage of eggs/hatchlings would normally survive to later age
classes in the wild (Webb and Manolis 1993) and the current harvest represents a very small
proportion of the total number of eggs laid each year (NRETAS internal data), it is unlikely that
the harvesting of crocodile eggs at current rates will substantially affect the size or age
structure of the population (Appendix 3). Continued monitoring will insure that the proposed
level of egg harvesting remains sustainable.
Currently 10 of the 12 monitored rivers are harvested. All monitored rivers have shown an
increase in both abundance and biomass (Appendix 3). This is consistent with the continued
increase in the overall population in the Northern Territory (Figure 1) and it supports
continuing with an adaptively managed increase in the egg harvest.
Recent levels of egg harvest have been approaching 40,000 eggs. It is proposed to
commence this program with an increased ceiling of 50,000 live eggs for at least the first two
years of the program.
Non-hatchling harvest
The increased focus by industry on harvesting eggs has been paralleled by a decreasing
take of non-hatchlings. The recent commercial take of adults has been less than 100 animals
each year between 2003 and 2009 which demonstrates the previous quota of 500 is in
excess of what is needed. Quotas firstly need to be demonstrably sustainable but they
should also be reflective of the needs of public safety and industry. Accordingly the ceiling of

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

each of the juvenile and adult size classes is reduced by 100 individuals from the previous
program.
The safari hunting of crocodiles will be trialled during the life of this program. Safari hunting
has been allocated a Territory-wide quota of 50 animals per annum, noting that not all the
quota need be allocated. This quota of 50 animals is included within the quota for the wildharvesting of adult crocodiles (Table 3). A minimum size limit for crocodiles taken by safari
hunters will be 3.5 m. There will be no maximum size limit but the hunting of large iconic
crocodiles will be subject to the restrictions detailed previously (see 4.1 Commercial harvest
and use Restrictions on live animal harvesting p.18) and to a case by case assessment
through the permit process. For safari hunting the method is restricted to shooting (see
Appendix 5) and the take of animals must comply with the Code of Practice on the Humane
Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles.
Further consultation in the form of meetings and workshops will be undertaken with a broad
range of stakeholders within twelve months of safari hunting being approved under the
management plan in order to streamline the guidelines presented in Appendix 5. Stakeholders
to be consulted will include Indigenous landholders and pastoralists, safari operators and
tourism operators within the range of the saltwater crocodile in the Northern Territory, the
Northern Territory and Australian Government agencies with responsibility for crocodile
management, the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils, the NT Cattlemens
Association , the Safari Hunters Association of Australia and animal welfare agencies.
These consultations would finalise the detailed specific requirements for safari operations
contained in the guidelines presented in Appendix 5, would determine the specifics of the
allocation of crocodiles for safari hunting across the Top End of the Northern Territory, and
would finalise specific requirements for the issuing of a permit by the responsible Northern
Territory government department (NRETAS).
The Australian Government department responsible for administering the Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) will be notified of any
changes to the guidelines which will then decide if the changes are significant enough to
require approval by the Australian Government minister. The actual trial would not be
conducted until after this additional consultation is completed and any significant changes to
the guidelines have been approved by the Commonwealth minister (if required) or the
Australian Government department responsible for administering the EPBC Act.
Harvest review
The maximum harvest ceiling of all life stages will be reviewed every 2 years immediately
after the population surveys have been completed and analysed. Should the monitoring
indicate that populations are increasing or remaining stable and the harvest impact is within
the established sustainable limits then further increasing the maximum harvest ceiling will be
considered. Conversely, should declining trends be demonstrated then the need for harvest
restrictions will be assessed as outlined in Section 4.8. This Management Program provides
for two indicative egg harvest increments in years 3 and 5 of the Program. The consideration
and justification for any changes in the harvest ceiling will be presented within the required
reporting framework.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

The Director of the Parks and Wildlife Commission may vary the ceiling, provided that, in the
case of an increase, the Australian Government has provided endorsement of the change in
writing.
Prior to making a decision to revise the ceiling, the Northern Territory Government will consider
the following:

current trends in population size and structure;

climatic or environmental effects on the population;

management objectives for specific areas;

proportion of total habitat subject to harvesting;

any non-commercial mortality events within populations;

review of previous harvests;

review of past and current research results; and

any other information considered relevant by the Director of the Parks and Wildlife
Commission.

Local sustainable harvest levels within specific areas of land subject to harvesting will be
determined after similar considerations. The geographic basis for this will be based on regional
catchments as defined in Figure 3. The current percentage of egg harvest in each catchment
reflects a number of historic parameters such as access to helicopters, productivity and ease of
collection, and landholder interest in the industry (Figure 3). The percentages have not been
fixed for future seasons. An improved GIS database to assist with both the allocation of eggs
and the assessment of harvest effort and compliance will be developed.
If demand for eggs is greater than the ceiling, the Northern Territory Government will apply a
set of criteria/principles to apportion eggs to applicants to remain within the harvest ceiling. The
process will be conducted to ensure the allocation is equitable and transparent. The criteria will
be developed in consultation with stakeholders and made available on the web at
(http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/programs/crocsustain/pdf/criteria_crocegg_allocation.pdf).
The harvest levels set out in Table 3 are both conservative and adaptive, and populations
harvested at these levels are expected to fluctuate primarily in response to environmental
conditions such as rainfall and the availability and quality of breeding habitat (Fukuda et al.
2007).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Figure 3: Regional catchments used for C. porosus egg allocation. The percentage of the egg harvest allocated
to each region shown is averaged from the collecting seasons of 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07. These
proportions are not static and are expected to vary between years and over time.

Precautionary approach
The following attributes of the species and the harvest introduce a number of precautionary
elements. Some of these can be applied as measures which can be implemented should a
serious decline (see section 4.8) be detected that merits management intervention.
Resilience of the species

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory crocodile population is inherently strongly resilient and able to rapidly
recover as exemplified by the extraordinary recovery from near extinction after protection in
1971. The survey data shows that the population structure is shifting to proportionately larger
crocodiles (Appendix 3). Given the large number of eggs laid each year (average clutch size
50) and their high mortality due to flooding (Webb and Manolis 1993), an increased level of
egg harvest is expected to have little impact on hatchling recruitment. The species is also
highly mobile and able to disperse widely.
Monitoring
There is regular population monitoring and the frequency of this monitoring can be increased
should it be required. This means it is possible to detect an adverse trend and implement
corrective actions within an appropriate time frame relative to the life cycle attributes of the
Saltwater Crocodile (see section 4.8).
Harvest Efficiency
Currently not all eggs can be collected from all areas due to the difficulty in finding nests,
accessibility and the increasing costs with increased remoteness.
Non-harvest areas
A system of non-harvest areas provides a safety net to ensure hatchling recruitment into the
population. The primary non-harvest area is the West and South Alligator Rivers within
Kakadu National Park. The existing monitoring surveys include harvested and non-harvested
rivers and this provides the means to investigate if there is a relationship between any
population changes and the extent of any harvesting impact.
Ranching with return to the wild
The original concept of ranching in the context of CITES is based on a percentage of
ranched individuals being returned to the wild to maintain the natural recruitment of
hatchlings into the population. The high mortality of the earliest life cycle stages is therefore
avoided and such a release should enhance recruitment into the population.
Due to the increasing crocodile population in the Northern Territory there has never been a
requirement to release hatchlings or older stages back into the wild in the ranching program.
Such a regular system of release is unlikely to be logistically practical in the Northern
Territory. Additional constraints to the cost and logistics include increased risk of disease
introduction into the wild population and the fitness of captive raised individuals for
reintroduction into the wild.
Nevertheless reintroduction remains a feasible option that can be implemented if needed to
address a serious decline in the population at the local or broader level.
Performance Indicators
Develop and implement a GIS database to assist with both allocation of eggs and monitoring
harvest effort and compliance.
Investigate and take appropriate action on all suspected local impacts on the population.
Instigate adaptive management actions should there be any increased threats to the
Saltwater Crocodile and their habitat.
Ensure the harvest ceiling is set in accordance with the provisions of this management

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

program.
Assess all permit applications and ensure egg allocation is distributed across harvest regions
in accordance with the provisions of the management program.

4.2

Permits and compliance

Commercial use will be regulated by issuing individual permits under Section 55 of the TPWC
Act. The NRETAS web site provides details of the types and conditions of permits relating to
wildlife ( http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/permits/index.html ). Commercial operations are
subject to review under the Environmental Assessment Act when established. The commercial
processing of farmed crocodile meat from the live animal up to leaving an abattoir is covered
under the Meat Industries Act. Food products after leaving the abattoir are regulated by the
Food Act. Packaging is labelled to identify the contents as coming from an approved wildlife
trade management program.
4.2.1

Permits to take

Crocodylus porosus is protected in the Northern Territory. The removal of any crocodiles from
the wild (animals or eggs; live or dead) requires a Permit to Take from the Northern Territory
Government, or on Commonwealth land such as Kakadu National Park, a permit from the
Australian Government. Permits to Take must be linked to a Permit to Keep if the specimens
are retained. Permit applications must include details on the method, extent and location of
the proposed harvest. All permits for harvesting will require the written consent of the
landholder. Permits are normally for one year but egg harvesting permits may on request be
issued for up to three years. New multiple year egg harvest permits will be issued on the
basis of an annual allocation. The allocations for years two and three will be assessed and
adjusted each year as part of a rolling program. The closing date for egg permit applications
for each season will be 31st August.
The permit holder must provide the Northern Territory Government with a written report on
activities conducted under the permit. This report should include details on the number of animals
(including eggs) taken, skin tag numbers if relevant, the size and sex of each crocodile that was
taken, and a GPS location of the harvest. In the case of egg collections, returns must be lodged
by 31st July and the report should provide detail of all eggs including the number of live eggs
harvested at each collection site with GPS location and the number of viable eggs produced.
Annual reports/returns need to be submitted each year for a multi-year permit. Failure to lodge a
return or the inclusion of insufficient or incorrect information in the permit return may result in
issuing a warning letter, caution notices, an infringement notice, the refusal of future permit
applications, revocation of permits and/or prosecution.
The Northern Territory Government may cancel a permit at any time if information becomes
available that indicates that conservation management measures may be required to protect a
C. porosus population. Compliance with the Code of Practice (see Section 1.4.1) will be a
condition of all permits issued for harvesting crocodiles.
4.2.2

Permits to keep

A Permit to Keep from the Northern Territory Government is required to keep and/or trade C.
porosus and/or its parts. A Permit to Keep C. porosus in captivity is subject to annual renewal
and compliance with the provisions of the TPWC Act and the Animal Welfare Act. Compliance

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

with the Code of Practice (see Section 1.4.1) will be a condition of all permits issued to keep
crocodiles. Crocodiles kept as pets also require a Permit to Keep with a particular set of permit
conditions. These conditions can be found at the following link
http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/permits/croc.html
Farm records are administered by RDPIFR and the responsibility for farm records vests with
RDPIFR. The holder of the Permit to Keep is required to provide monthly farm records to
RDPIFR detailing stock gains/losses, transfers, sales, mortality, and skin and meat processing
figures. Crocodile farms are also required to submit the details of all animals held on the
annual permit return to NRETAS. This information is used to compare farm holdings with wild
harvest permit returns and ensure compliance with wild harvest permits. In the case of wild
caught animals annual returns are to be provided to NRETAS.
Individuals or companies trading products derived from Saltwater Crocodiles taken under this
Management Program are required to maintain detailed records, and to mark such products
(excluding skins) with a product label in accordance with the NRETAS product label guidelines.
NRETAS issues product labels for finished products on a cost recovery basis or producers can
print the required information on their own labelling and packaging. The minimum requirement
for an approved product label is that the label:

states that this is a crocodile product produced in accordance with an approved


management program;
shows the permit number of the Permit to Keep that the product was produced under;
and
shows the date that the product label was affixed to the product.

These labels provide the means to identify products as originating from a legitimate source.
Failure to lodge a return or the inclusion of insufficient or incorrect information in the permit return
may result in issuing a warning letter, caution notices, an infringement notice, the refusal of future
permit applications, revocation of permits and/or prosecution.
4.2.3

Permits to export and import

A permit issued under the TPWC Act is required to export (including re-export) wild caught,
commercially farmed and captive-bred C. porosus or its parts from the Northern Territory to
other Australian States and Territories. Permits for the export of live animals or parts derived
from wild caught animals are obtained from NRETAS. Permits for export of parts derived from
ranched or captive-bred animals are obtained from RDPIFR.
The overseas export of shipments of live crocodiles and commercial shipments of crocodilian
skins, products or by-products from Australia requires an additional CITES permit from the
Australian Government department responsible for administering the EPBC Act. RDPIFR
provides skin tags and permits on behalf of the Australian government for commercial
shipments of skins from crocodile farms. Other international exports will require an export
permit from NRETAS prior to the Australian Government issuing a CITES permit.
Under CITES provisions for personal effects, crocodilian products can leave Australia within a
passengers personal luggage without a CITES permit if they are personally owned, noncommercial, legally acquired, and no more than four items are carried per person. If sourced in

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

the NT, these items should have a product label attached stating that the crocodilian product is
derived from an approved management program (see section 4.2.2).
An import permit issued by the Australian Government responsible for administering the EPBC
Act is required for the commercial shipment of crocodilian products or their parts entering the
Northern Territory from overseas. A Northern Territory import (including re-import) permit,
issued under the TPWC Act is required for all shipments of crocodiles or their parts entering
the Northern Territory from within Australia. Imports from other Australian jurisdictions should
also be accompanied by an export permit from that jurisdiction. Import permits for live animals
are issued by NRETAS and are valid for one month. Import permits for crocodile products are
issued by RDPIFR.
4.2.4

Permits and returns

The farm Permit to Keep requires that the farm submit monthly farm records (see section
4.2.2). Data from the monthly returns of crocodile farms is collated and submitted to RDPIFR,
published in annual reports by NRETAS and submitted to the Australian Government in
compliance with the EPBC Act. Submitting production data to RDPIFR is a requirement of the
Permit to Keep. RDPIFR conduct annual hatchling audits on all farms to validate monthly
returns.
Shipment Inspections
An AQIS health declaration and certification of any skins and hides is required for international
shipment and is supplied by RDPIFR. All international shipments of crocodile products are
inspected by a RDPIFR officer. Shipments are inspected to ensure that they comply with the
conditions and details on the export permit. Once a shipment is inspected and sealed by a
RDPIFR officer it can be exported.
Skins
Each whole skin, whole belly skin and, whole hornback skin and trophy skin entering trade or
being exported will be marked with a non-reusable orange plastic skin tag issued by the
Australian Government in compliance with the provisions of CITES Resolution Conf. 11.12.
http://www.cites.org/eng/res/11/11-12.shtml. Excised backstraps are packaged into a carton
and the skin tag is attached to the carton. The permit issued for backstraps states that the tag
is attached to the box and records the total number of backstraps in the carton.
Each farm completes a Specimen Export Record (SER) which states the skin tags have been
attached to either whole skins or cartons of backstraps and returns it to the Australian
Government responsible for administering the EPBC Act. Each skin tag is uniquely numbered
and the number serves as an identification number for all subsequent record keeping related to
the skin of that particular animal. RDPIFR is responsible for issuing skin tags on a costrecovery basis. Skin tags are issued annually.
Flesh
Flesh is packed in cartons that are marked to show that the enclosed product is a farmed
product. Producers can use pre-labelled cartons which state that the contents are perishable
and needs to be kept frozen or kept cold. Alternatively flesh can be sealed in standard cartons
using specially marked green tape printed with contents are perishable and needs to be kept
frozen or kept cold. This labelling requirement applies to both domestic and international
shipments. The labelled tape is available from RDPIFR.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

By-products
Large parts (e.g. skulls), minor parts and derivatives of animals exported under the program
are labelled with a product label in accordance with the NRETAS product label guidelines
NRETAS (see section 4.2.2).
Manufactured items (excluding tanned whole skins)
Manufactured items are identified with a product label in accordance with the NRETAS product
label guidelines (see section 4.2.2).
4.2.5

Compliance

The Northern Territory Government implements the following actions as measures to enforce
compliance:

random checks may be conducted on eggs and farm stock to ensure compliance with
permit conditions and reporting;

remote surveillance is conducted on random crocodile nests in known locations;

data collected on eggs and hatchlings will be linked and compared to ensure the smooth
transition between different Northern Territory Departmental auditing systems;

NRETAS will work collaboratively with other jurisdictions (i.e. Kakadu National Park,
Queensland, Western Australia, Australian Government and tanneries etc) as
preventative actions to eliminate the possibility of illegal trade of eggs, animals or
products interstate; and

NRETAS will investigate any reported potentially illegal incident and take legal action
where sufficient evidence is obtained.

The Northern Territory Government has the capacity to develop and introduce permit
conditions should any new additional compliance measures be needed.
Performance Indicators
Ensure that the annual commercial harvest of Saltwater Crocodiles does not exceed the
approved ceiling for each category.
Assess applications and issue permits under the TPWC Act.
Monitor and audit harvest applications, approvals and returns and investigate and resolve
any discrepancies.
Ensure all permit applications have correct landholder approval.
Ensure monthly farm stock returns comply with permit conditions and are reported half yearly
to farms and NRETAS.
Audit farm hatchlings annually.
Ensure compliance with the issue of skin tags and permits.
Conduct random checks on farm stock numbers.
Review permit conditions annually and amend where necessary.
Ensure compliance with permit conditions is at or near 100% and addressing permit
breaches through warning letters, caution notices, infringement notices or prosecution is at or
near 100%.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

4.3

Management-focused research

Management decisions will be enhanced by focused new research and analysis of existing
data.
The Northern Territory Government will continue to review and analyse previous available
data to describe changes to Saltwater Crocodile populations and their distribution over that
time period. This will include a risk analysis for the Darwin rural area that will identify high risk
hotspots which can be targeted for more frequent surveillance and intensive management
actions (see Objective 2).
The harvest system will draw on harvest modelling to aid decision-making. Harvest modelling
will provide an additional decision support tool to assess harvest options and possible
impacts at different spatial scales.
NRETAS may issue permits for research on crocodiles. Crocodiles or any crocodile products
taken under a research permit will not be considered as part of this management program
unless they enter into commercial trade. Any live eggs that arise from permitted research
activities that enter the commercial farming system will be included within the ceiling and
reporting to the Australian Government. Non-viable eggs collected for permitted research
activities will be excluded from the egg ceiling. Additional viable eggs can be obtained for
legitimate research provided they do not enter the commercial industry. These eggs would be
subject to the normal conditions and processes covered under any research proposals that use
wildlife. Resultant hatchlings must be retained under a Permit to Keep or humanely euthanized.
Performance Indicators
Review and analyse available data to describe changes to Saltwater Crocodile populations
and their distribution and publish the outcomes as appropriate.
Develop population/harvest simulation models to provide an additional decision support tool
to assess harvest options and possible impacts.

Objective 2 - To promote community awareness and public safety


4.4

Risk assessment

A risk management approach to minimise negative interactions with people is critical to any
management process that endeavours to maintain a top order predator such as Saltwater
Crocodiles in the landscape. Approaches need to be capable of responding to interactions in
remote areas as well as highly populated centres. In particular, the expansion of the Darwin
rural area and the increased number of people choosing to live a rural lifestyle is increasing the
potential interactions with crocodiles. The three basic approaches that can be adopted to
improve public safety are:

reducing crocodile numbers in areas where people and crocodiles significantly overlap;

increasing public awareness and responsibility; and

increasing barriers to prevent either human entry to the water or the movement of
crocodiles into high public-use areas.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

The most effective management response will depend on the size of the area to be managed,
the practicality of actions and the level of risk. For the Darwin rural area data sources such as
human population density and growth, crocodile population trends, problem crocodile capture
records and GIS layers of habitat and watercourses will help identify high risk hotspots which
can be targeted for more frequent and active surveillance. Such a risk analysis will allow the
areas that require new or increased management interventions and the nature and scale of
that management response to be identified and targeted.
There will be only a very limited range of circumstances where crocodile densities can be
reduced to near zero and effectively no circumstances where the density can be guaranteed to
be zero. The only safe assumption is that any body of water in the Top End may contain large
and potentially dangerous crocodiles. Many waterways that are isolated in the dry season are
connected to other river systems during the wet season, allowing crocodiles to move over a
large area. The common name of Saltwater Crocodile is something of a misnomer and
perhaps creates some misconceptions that the species is confined to saltwater/estuarine
habitats. Saltwater Crocodiles have always been found not only in coastal and tidal rivers, but
also in floodplains, billabongs, and freshwater streams and habitats hundreds of kilometres
inland. The expanding crocodile population also means that animals are recolonising and
turning up in areas where they have not been seen for many years.
Performance Indicators
Analyse the risk of areas where human interaction with crocodiles may occur and prepare
options for the appropriate level of management options.
Analyse problem crocodile capture data to assess trends and identify areas of increasing risk
to humans.
Develop and implement a CROCWISE plan to educate and heighten the awareness of the
dangers of crocodiles in the Northern Territorys waterways.

4.5

Removal of problem crocodiles

The Northern Territory Government has specialist staff-members within the Parks and
Wildlife Service who remove problem crocodiles. Problem crocodiles in remote areas can be
dealt with firstly by the Parks & Wildlife Service crocodile team or by Park Rangers if they are
nearby and available. Secondly permits can be issued to community-based ranger groups or
landowners to deal with the problem animal. Thirdly police officers can be instructed to shoot
a problem animal.
Captured crocodiles close to large population centres are purchased by crocodile farms.
Crocodiles captured under a Permit to Take will be counted against the ceiling for wild harvest.
Problem crocodiles removed by Northern Territory Government staff are not counted against
the ceiling for wild harvested crocodiles.
In some areas, such as around Darwin, the Katherine River near Katherine and designated
swimming areas in National Parks (e.g. Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park), any
C. porosus, regardless of size, is considered a problem animal. These areas are intensively
managed through an active trapping and surveillance program to maintain a very low
crocodile density (Table 4). All areas subject to intensive management and the associated
management actions will be identified in the CROCWISE plan.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Dealing with problem crocodiles needs to be expeditious and for this reason safari hunting is
not an effective tool for dealing with problem crocodiles.
Darwin Harbour and the Katherine River have detailed management strategies with defined
zones and specific management actions to remove crocodiles. The current Darwin Harbour
Crocodile Management Area extends from Charles Point to the west to Tree Point to the east
including Darwin Harbour, Shoal Bay and their estuaries. The existing level of control based
largely on permanent traps and spotlight surveillance will be maintained. Additionally, due to
increasing residential living in the Darwin rural area, an expanded Darwin Crocodile
Management Zone will be established and will include identified high risk areas in the entire
Darwin Harbour catchment and eastwards to the Adelaide River (Figure 4).
This newly defined zone will encompass the Darwin rural area. Additional increased public
safety measures to be implemented in the Darwin rural area will include:

an increased intensity of trapping;

increased surveillance of receding water bodies as the dry season approaches to ensure
no crocodiles are left behind;

increase the monitoring on the Adelaide river to annual surveys;

developing a monitoring program for the Darwin rural freshwater areas; and

improved community awareness of living with crocodiles (see 4.5).

Crocodiles can move into the Darwin rural area from several sources but the predominant
source is likely to be the Adelaide River and associated floodplains. The extent of culling that
would be required in the Adelaide River to reduce the risk level in the Darwin rural area would
be an extensive number of animals. Even with this order of culling, the risk remains as animals
will move with floodwaters and can also move into the area from other sources. Such a broad
scale culling option is not ethical, practical or cost effective.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 4: Summary of current key Saltwater Crocodile management actions across the Top End
Management Actions by Northern Territory Government
Permanent
traps

Traps when
water flow
allows

Additional
Traps as
required

Regular spot
lighting

Spot lighting
before opening
for swimming

Visual
inspections

Water level and


clarity criteria
for opening

Wangi Falls

N/A

daily

Berri Springs

salt water / fresh


water

N/A

daily

Litchfield NP

Sandy Creek
Falls

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Litchfield NP

Surprise Creek
Falls

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Litchfield NP

Florence Falls

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

N/A

not closed

weekly

N/A

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

N/A

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

N/A

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

N/A

Indicator floats & barrier fencing

Park / Town

Site

Litchfield NP

Manton Dam
Darwin
Harbour / Shoal
Bay

western
boundary and
spillway
19 permanent
traps between
Woods Inlet and
Hope Inlet

N/A

N/A

N/A

weekly trap run


more regularly if
crocs reported
in traps
weekly trap run
more regularly if
crocs reported
in traps
Up to Lake
Bennett
management

Other management tools (eg.


floats)
respond to public sightings additional traps if required
indicator float installed
respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Nhulunbuy

Ski beach,
Yacht club and
Town Billabong

Lake Bennett

Lake Bennett

Private lake /
own traps

N/A

Douglas Hot
Springs

Douglas Hot
Springs

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Butterfly Gorge

Main Pool and


Creek

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Douglas Daly
Tourist Park

Douglas River

By DDTP
Management

respond to public sightings additional traps if required

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Park / Town

Site

Permanent
traps

Traps when
water flow
allows

Additional
Traps as
required

Regular spot
lighting

Spot lighting
before opening
for swimming

Visual
inspections

Water level and


clarity criteria
for opening

Darwin River
Dam

Dam

In process

N/A

N/A

N/A

Gorge

daily

Leilyn

daily

NA

weekly

N/A

weekly

respond to sightings by PAWA


staff
Respond to public sightings.
Aerial Survey / Floats
Respond to public sightings
Swimming Not Allowed / Aerial
survey / Floats
Aerial survey / Floats

weekly

Aerial Survey

weekly

Aerial Survey
Swimming not
recommended/allowed. Saltwater
crocodiles present.
Swimming not
recommended/allowed. Saltwater
crocodiles present

Nitmiluk
Flora NP

Entire Park

Elsey NP

12 mile
Waterhouse
landing
Four Mile

Y
Y

Rocky Creek
Boat Ramp

N/A

weekly

N/A

Town Ramp

NA

weekly

N/A

Borroloola

Katherine River

Low level to
Gorge

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Other management tools (eg.


floats)

Floats

Management Actions by Australian Government in Kakadu National Park

Site

Jim Jim
Falls

Twin Falls

Maguk

Gunlom

Koolpin

Moline
Rockhole
Jabiru Lake

Permanen
t traps

Traps
when
water flow
allows

Traps as
required

Other
capture
and
removal
methods

Extra
traps as
required
for target
areas

Harpoon

Regular
spot
lighting

Spot
lighting
before
opening
for
swimming

Regular /
weekly
inspections

Detection
devices

Croc detection
barriers

Other management
tools (e.g. floats)

Acting on and
investigating
visitor and
resident
reported
sightings

Floats
maintained at
various
locations

Installed as
required once
water levels drop

Free baits (usually pig


legs) installed as
required at sandy
bank areas for croc
track detection

Floats
maintained at
various
locations

Croc track
detection barriers
installed as
required across
creek

Free baits installed as


required at sandy
bank areas for croc
track detection

Floats
maintained at
various
locations

Croc track
detection barriers
installed as
required across
creek

Free baits installed as


required at sandy
bank areas for croc
track detection

Floats
maintained at
various
locations

Croc track
detection barriers
installed as
required across
creek

Free baits installed as


required at sandy
bank areas for croc
track detection

Floats
maintained at
various
locations

Croc track
detection barriers
installed as
required across
creek

Free baits installed as


required at sandy
bank areas for croc
track detection

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Intermittent spotlighting

Y
Y

Figure 4: Expanded Darwin Crocodile Management Zone The new expanded area is defined as the west bank of
the Adelaide River to the western catchment boundary of the Darwin Harbour catchment. Existing management
actions as listed in Table 4 will be maintained and additional high risk areas will be identified and be subjected to
intensive management actions designed to keep crocodiles to a very low density in those high risk areas.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

The capture and handling of problem crocodiles must comply with the Animal Welfare Act and the
Code of Practice.
Performance Indicators
Issue permits to remove problem crocodiles as necessary and appropriate.
Maintain the program to remove all crocodiles in designated Intensively Managed zones.
NRETAS responds to reports of problem crocodiles and implements appropriate
management measures.
Re-define the Darwin Harbour Intensively Managed zone to include high risk areas of the
entire catchment and include the waterways of the Darwin rural area (as per Figure 4).

4.6

Community awareness and participation

The public profile of crocodiles and crocodile management in the Northern Territory is high,
particularly for the Saltwater Crocodile. Maintaining effective communication links between
government agencies, industry stakeholders, regional land management and conservation
groups, and the wider community is an important component for the success of this program.
Effective communication structures are also essential for adaptive management and incorporating
feedback from industry and community groups into future management policies and practices for
crocodiles in the Northern Territory. The community must be well informed about safe behaviours
in living with crocodiles. Market research will be conducted to assess the best methods to target
all sectors of the community. A communication plan about living with crocodiles that takes into
account any recommendations from the market research will be developed and implemented.
The Northern Territory Government promotes crocodile awareness among residents and visitors
to the Territory by disseminating educational information. Public awareness campaigns will
continue to be conducted at regular planned intervals coinciding with the onset of the tourism
season and the build-up/wet season to help minimise harmful interactions between people and
crocodiles. A high profile campaign, similar to the cyclone preparedness community campaign will
use the web and the media to ensure messages about safe behaviour are effectively conveyed to
both locals and visitors. Local events such as the show circuit, tour guides, park visitor centres,
and park ranger talks are avenues to further disseminate messages in a face to face setting.
Signs at popular water entry points and info TV are other valuable means of informing people
about reducing risks with crocodiles. Media and tourism marketers also need to be well informed
so they convey a consistent key message about living with crocodiles. The Northern Territory
Government will also promote relevant legislation, policy and guidelines to the commercial
crocodile industry and wider community via promotion of this management program, relevant fact
sheets, and through the Northern Territory Government permit system.
Performance Indicators
Continue to conduct public awareness, safety and educational message campaigns through
Northern Territory Government staff, effective use of the media and on the Northern Territory
Government website.
Conduct market research to assess the best communication methods for targeting and
informing all sectors of the community about living safely with crocodiles.
Develop and implement a public safety communication plan.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Objective 3 - To ensure humane treatment of Saltwater Crocodiles


4.7

Animal welfare

The Code recommends a number of methods for capture of wild crocodiles, including traps,
snares, hooks, nets, harpooning and shooting. Harvesting, capture of problem crocodiles and
farming of C. porosus must be in accordance with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and
with the Code of Practice.
Compliance with the Code of Practice will be a condition of all permits issued to take and/or keep
crocodiles and hence enforcement is achieved through the TPWC Act. Compliance with the Code
of Practice for harvests will be enforced by NRETAS and in the case of farms by RDPIFR staff.
Farms will be inspected by Northern Territory Government Animal Welfare officers to ensure
animal welfare standards are met. An indication of a decrease in animal welfare standards or a
suspected breach of the Animal Welfare Act will result in an inspection. Non-compliance with the
Animal Welfare Act or the Code of Practice may result in an infringement notice, the permit being
revoked and/or prosecution under either the Animal Welfare Act or the Territory Parks and Wildlife
Conservation (TWPC) Act.
All crocodile farms are regularly visited by RDPIFR staff and welfare standards are monitored
during these visits.
Performance Indicators
Ensure the requirements of the Code of Practice are a condition on all permits and that a
copy of the Code is distributed to all new permit holders.
Ensure all successful permit applicants are competent to comply with the relevant animal
welfare standards.
Ensure all crocodile farms meet animal welfare standards.
Inspect farms regularly to ensure animal welfare standards are met.
Investigate and take appropriate action on any suspected breaches of the Animal Welfare
Act or the Code of Practice.

Objective 4 - To monitor and report on the impact of the harvest of


Saltwater Crocodiles
4.8

Monitoring

Population estimates
Spotlight surveys over selected river systems within the Northern Territory (Figure 5) provide
indices of the density and size structure of crocodile populations and are the standard method of
monitoring for C. porosus (Messel et al. 1981; Stirrat et al. 2001). The surveys include counts of
the 0-2 foot (0-0.6m) size class which is accepted as equating to hatchlings (less than one year
old) and so provides a measure of recruitment from the last nesting season. The key rivers
monitored under this program are highly productive rivers where most crocodile harvesting occurs;
that have been surveyed using the spotlight technique in the past; and for which long-term
datasets are available (Appendix 3).
The spotlight monitoring program focuses on the following rivers:

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Adelaide River This major river has the largest ongoing egg collection in the harvest program.
The catchment contains two important areas; Melacca Swamp where long-term monitoring data
has been collected and Djukbinj National Park, which is jointly managed between the Traditional
owners and the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Mary River This is a river with a particularly high density of large crocodiles. Much of the
surveyed section of this river is freshwater. The freshwater sections of this river provide valuable
management information about the ecology and population dynamics of crocodiles in
freshwater.
Daly River Floodplains in the Daly River are subject to substantial egg harvest.
Arnhem land rivers Significant harvests of eggs occur in these areas, where there is an
ongoing commitment by Aboriginal landholders to a variety of sustainable use projects. It
includes the Liverpool, Tomkinson, Cadell, Blyth, and Glyde Rivers.
In addition to data collected from these rivers by the Northern Territory Government, data from
the East, South and West Alligator Rivers and the Wildman River, collected by Parks Australia
staff provide additional data on the status of populations in Kakadu National Park. The South
Alligator and West Alligators River are unique in the data set because they are not subject to
any form of harvesting. All other major rivers in the Northern Territory do have some form of
harvesting. The data from the South Alligator River can be analysed to interpret whether any
major reduction is due to harvesting or some other independent factor (e.g. climate change).
Timing and frequency of surveys
A review of the crocodile-monitoring program in 1999 indicated that the spotlight technique is a
reliable method for monitoring populations and is more reliable than helicopter surveys (Stirrat
et al. 2001). Webb et al. (2000) also concluded that spotlight counts were more precise and
accurate than helicopter counts. Using the spotlight technique, a decline of 10% in the crocodile
population (in a river where residual variation in the data is relatively low) can be detected with
considerable confidence (power of around 80-90%) in around four to five years with annual
surveys and seven to eight years with biennial surveys (Stirrat et al. 2001). In the review
process a level of 10% was regarded as relevant to the management program in the Northern
Territory. Declines of greater than 10% would be picked up in a shorter period. Data collected to
date suggest that the impact of egg and adult harvesting has been minimal. Given these
considerations a biennial survey regime has been implemented except for the Adelaide River
which will be monitored annually. Every year, half the rivers are surveyed so that each river is
surveyed on a biennial basis. Other individual rivers may be surveyed as necessary and
appropriate.
Analysis of survey data
The crocodile monitoring program uses existing knowledge of the variation in data from a
particular river to detect any declining trends in numbers or biomass (Appendix 3). There is
inherent variability in both the survey results and the fluctuations of the crocodile population
which are independent of harvesting. Survey data from each of the monitored rivers will be
analysed to detect any significant population decline.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

If survey results show a declining trend, the population in that river would be resurveyed in each
of the following two years (rather than on a biennial basis) to check the validity of the low values.
If these population declines continue for three consecutive years, management intervention will
be considered, possibly in the form of reducing or stopping harvests and/or restocking. The
change in the management of that river will be maintained until survey data suggest harvesting
can continue. If declining trends are detected in more than one river in a regional catchment
(Figure 3) then the management interventions will be applied across the regional catchment.
There are some regional catchments that do not have monitored rivers. If declining trends are
detected across an adjoining regional catchment then management interventions will be applied
in the non-monitored regional catchment.
The monitored rivers are generally highly productive and therefore in the most heavily harvested
regional catchments. Because of high environmental variability, sporadic outlying data survey
points have occurred in the past. Therefore, the Northern Territory Government will not ban
harvesting based on the survey results of only one year. This is because outlying survey results
are more likely to be related to variations in temperature and tidal conditions than to a change in
population size.
Performance Indicators
Continue the population survey program as stipulated in this management program.
Analyse and assess the results of the survey program and implement any resulting
management recommendations.

Figure 5: Rivers surveyed to monitor Saltwater Crocodile populations in the NT.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Commercial harvest
Information on the crocodile harvest (size and sex of non-hatchling crocodiles, numbers of total,
live and viable eggs) is obtained through harvest returns submitted by permit holders. Harvest
figures will also be considered in combination with numbers removed through other means (e.g.
non-commercial destruction), and with environmental conditions that may impact on population
size and structure (e.g. drought and habitat changes).

4.9

Reporting

Crocodile farms
All Northern Territory crocodile farms are visited by RDPIFR staff on a regular basis for the
purposes of inspection and certification of crocodiles and crocodile products for trade and disease
investigations. During these visits RDPIFR staff monitor for compliance with animal welfare
standards. Designated Northern Territory Government Animal Welfare officers may conduct an
animal welfare investigation at any time in response to a complaint. Hatchlings are audited
annually. See sections 4.2 and 4.7 for performance indicators and Appendix 2 for a summary of
responsibilities.
Auditing and reporting
The Management Program will be audited internally by the Northern Territory Government
(NRETAS and RDPIFR) on an annual basis. The performance indicators listed in this program will
be audited and assessed annually by program management staff. The Northern Territory
Government will provide annual reports to the Australian Government. Additionally there will be an
annual summary of activities against the performance indicators placed on the Departmental
internet site. The annual report will include:

Progress against performance indicators;

Harvest statistics including:


- Number of crocodile eggs taken;
- Number of crocodile hatchlings taken;
- Number of crocodile juveniles taken;
- Number of crocodile adults taken
- Sex ratio of harvest (adults only);
- Average body size of harvested animals for each sex.

Number of permits issued for problem crocodile removal and details of the fate of each
crocodile covered under those permits;

Number and location of problem crocodiles removed by NRETAS and the fate of each
crocodile; and

Industry compliance statistics including:


- Number of premises inspected;
- Number of caution notices issued and reason for issue;
- Number of alleged offences investigated and their outcomes; and
- Any joint surveillance/enforcement activities completed with other agencies.

Performance Indicators
Annually audit the progress of the Management Program against each of the performance
indicators and adjust management practices as necessary.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Submit annual progress report to the Australian Government and provide a summary on the
Northern Territory Government website.
Review of the management program
The 20122014 program will be fully reviewed at the end of 2014 or sooner as required under
section 32(2) of the TPWC Act. The detail included in this management program in relation to
management actions, legislation and administrative arrangements is current as at June 2012.
It is not proposed that the management program will be rewritten should there be changes to
management actions, legislation and administrative arrangements during the life of the program
unless any such changes are so significant that the Northern Territory Government and
Australian Government agree that a new program is required. The Australian Government will
be advised of any changes to this program.
Performance Indicator
Review and update the Management Program by 2014.

5.

References1

Altman J C (1987). Hunter-gatherers today: an Aboriginal economy in north Australia. Australian Institute
of Aboriginal Studies. Canberra.
Bayliss, P. and Messel, H. (1990). The population dynamics of estuarine crocodiles. In: An assessment of
long-term census data. Proceedings 9th Working Meeting IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group,
Lae, PNG. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland, pp. 1-44.
Burbidge A.A. (1987). The management of crocodiles in Western Australia. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis
and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty.
Ltd. in association with the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Sydney, pp. 125127.
Cogger H. (1993). General description and definition of the Order Crocodylia. In: C.J. Glasby, G.J. Ross
and P.L. Beesley (Eds.), Fauna of Australia, Vol. 2A, Amphibia and Reptilia. Australian Government
Publishing Service, Canberra, 235 pp.
Cooper-Preston H. and Jenkins, R.W.G. (1993) Natural history of the Crocodylia. In: C.J. Glasby, G.J.
Ross and P.L. Beesley (Eds.), Fauna of Australia, Vol. 2A, Amphibia and Reptilia. Australian
Government Publishing Service, Canberra, pp. 337343.
Delaney R., Fukuda Y. and Bowland A.E. (2008). Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) management
plan 2004-2007: Progress report to DEWHA.
Doody J.S., Green B., Sims R., Rhind D., West P., and Steer D. (2006). Indirect impacts of invasive cane
toads (Bufo marinus) on nest survival in pig-nosed turtles (Carettochelys insculpta). Wildlife Research
33:349-354.
Flood J. (1983). Archaeology of the Dreamtime. Collins, Sydney.
Fukuda, Y., Whitehead, P., and Boggs, G. (2007). Broad-scale environmental influences on the
abundance of saltwater crocodiles (Crocdylus porosus) in Australia. Wildlife Research 34(3), 167-176.
Fukuda, Y., P. Whitehead, M. Letnic, C. Manolis, R. Delaney, G. Lindner and G. Webb. (final draft in prep).

1 To avoid repetition all references in the Appendices have been included here.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Recovery of saltwater crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus, following the cessation of hunting in tidal rivers
of the Northern Territory, Australia. Paper to be submitted to Wildlife Research.
Grigg G. and Gans, C. (1993). Morphology and physiology of the Crocodylia. In: C.J. Glasby, G.J.B. Ross
and P.L. Beesley (Eds.), Fauna of Australia, Vol. 2A Amphibia and Reptilia. Australian Government
Publishing Service, Canberra, pp. 326336.
Groombridge B. (1987). The distribution and status of world crocodilians. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis
and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty.
Ltd. in association with the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory: Sydney, pp. 921.
Hennessy, K., B. Fitzharris, B.C. Bates, N. Harvey, S.M. Howden, L. Hughes, J. Salinger and R. Warrick,
(2007). Australia and New Zealand. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds.,
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 507-540.
Hennessy K., C. Page, J. Bathols, K. McInnes, B. Pittock, R. Suppiah and K. Walsh (2004). Climate
change in the Northern Territory. CSIRO report for the Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure,
Planning and Environment. March 2004.
http://www.nt.gov.au/NRETAS/environment/greenhouse/pdf/ntclimatechange.pdf
Jenkins R.W.G. (1987). The world conservation strategy and CITES; principles for the management of
crocodilians. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management:
Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty. Ltd. in association with the Conservation
Commission of the Northern Territory: Sydney, pp. 2731.
Lanhupuy W. (1987). Australian aboriginal attitudes to crocodile management. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C.
Manolis and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty &
Sons Pty. Ltd. in association with the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory: Sydney, pp.
145147.
LCNT (2005). Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan for the Northern Territory: sustaining our
resources people, country and enterprises. Landcare Council of the Northern Territroy.
Letnic M and Connors G (2006). Changes in the distribution and abundance of saltwater crocodiles
(Crocodylus porosus) in the upstream, freshwater reaches of rivers in the Northern Territory, Australia.
Wildlife Research 33:529-538.
Letnic, M., Webb, J.K. and Shine, R. (2008). Invasive cane toads (Chaunus marinus) cause mass
mortality of freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni) in tropical Australia. Biological Conservation
doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.04.031.
Magnusson, W.E. (1980). Habitat required for nesting by Crocodylus porosus (Reptilia: Crocodilidae) in
northern Australia. Australian Wildife. Reearch. 7:149-156.
Magnusson, W.E., Grigg, G.C. and Taylor, J.A. (1978) An aerial survey of potential nesting areas of the
saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus Schneider, on the north coast of Arnhem Land, northern
Australia. Aust. Wildl. Res. 5, 401-415.
Magnusson, W.E. and Taylor, J.A. (1980) A description of developmental stages in Crocodylus porosus,
for use in ageing eggs in the field. Aust. Wildl. Res. 7, 479-486.
McBryde I. (1979). Archaeology. In: D. Barwick, M. Mace and T. Stannage (Eds.), Handbook for
Aboriginal and Islander History. Aboriginal History, Canberra.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Messel, H. and Vorlicek, G.C. (1985). Population dynamics of Crocodylus porosus -a ten year overview.
In: Biology of Australasian Frogs and Reptiles, (ed. by G. Grigg, R. Shine and H. Ehmann). Surrey
Beatty and Sons: Sydney, pp. 71-82.
Messel, H. and Vorlicek, G.C. (1986). Population dynamics and status of Crocodylus porosus in the tidal
waterways of northern Australia. Aust. Wildl. Res. 13, 71-111.
Messel, H., Vorlicek, G.C., Wells, A.G. and Green, W.J. (1981). Surveys of tidal river systems in the
Northern Territory of Australia and their crocodile populations. Monograph 1. Pergammon Press:
Sydney.
Molnar R. (1993). Biogeography and phylogeny of the Crocodylia, In: C.J. Glasby, G.J.B. Ross and P.L.
Beesley (Eds.), Fauna of Australia Vol. 2A Amphibia and Reptilia. Australian Government Publishing
Service, Canberra, pp. 34448.
Morton R. (2001). The application of exponentially weighted moving averages to managing crocodile
populations. Report No. CMIS 01/106, CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences, Canberra.
Nichols T. and Letnic M. (2008) Problem crocodiles: reducing the risk of attacks by Crocodylus porosus in
Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. In Urban Herpetology. Herpetological Conservation Vol.
3. (Eds J. C. Mitchell, R. E. Jung Brown and B. Bartholomew) pp. 503-511. (Society for the Study of
Amphibians and Reptiles: Salt Lake City.).
Peucker S. (1997). The crocodile industry. In: K. Hyde (Ed.), The New Rural Industries A handbook for
Farmers and Investors. Australian Government, Rural Industries Research & Development
Corporation (RIRDC), Canberra. (http://www.rirdc.gov.au/pub/handbook/contents.html)
PWCNT (1998). A management program for Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnstoni in the
Northern Territory of Australia. Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. Government
Printer of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
RMCG Consultants (2008). Development of the Northern Territory Saltwater Crocodile Industry Strategy.
Final Workshop Report to the Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts.
Stirrat S.C., Lawson, D., Freeland, W.J and Morton, R. (2001). Monitoring Crocodylus porosus
populations in the Northern Territory of Australia: a retrospective power analysis. Wildl. Res., 28: 547
554.
Taplin L.E. (1987). The management of crocodiles in Queensland. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis and P.J.
Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty. Ltd. in
association with the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Sydney, pp. 12940.
Tremblay, P. (2003). Crocodiles and Top End visitors: A meta-review of tourist perceptions, motivations
and attitudes towards a controversial local icon. CAUTHE 2003 Conference.
Usback, S. and James, R. (1993). A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. ANCA: Canberra.
van Dam R.A., Walden, D.J. and Begg, G.W. (2002). A preliminary risk assessment of cane toads in
Kakadu National Park. Scientist Report 164, Office of the Supervising Scientist, Darwin, Northern
Territory.
Walsh, B. and Whitehead, P.J. (1993). Problem crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus, at Nhulunbuy, Northern
Territory: An assessment of relocation as a management strategy. Wildlife Research 20, 127-135.
Webb, G. J. W. (1991). The influence of season on Australian crocodiles. In: M. G. Ridpath, C. D. Hayers
and M. J. D. Williams (Eds), Monsoonal Australia: Landscape, Ecology and Man in the Northern
Lowlands. AA Balkema: Rotterdam, pp. 125131.
Webb G.J.W. and Manolis, S.C. (1989). Crocodiles of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Webb G.J.W. and Manolis, S.C. (1993). Conserving Australias crocodiles through commercial incentives.
In: D. Lunney and D. Ayers (Eds.), Herpetology in Australia A Diverse Discipline. Surrey Beatty &
Sons, Sydney, pp. 250256.
Webb G.J.W., Manolis, S.C. and Ottley, B. (1994). Crocodile Management and Research in the Northern
Territory: 1992-94. Proceedings of the 12th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group of the
Species Survival Commission of the IUCN. Pattaya, Thailand, 2-6 May 1994. IUCN - The World
Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.
Webb, G.J.W., Manolis, S.C., Whitehead, P.J. and Letts, G.A. (1984). A proposal for the transfer of the
Australian population of Crocodylus porosus Schneider (1801), from Appendix I to Appendix II of
C.I.T.E.S. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Tech. Report No. 21.
Webb, G.J.W. and Messel, H. (1977). Crocodile capture techniques. J. Wildl. Mgt., 41: 572575.
Webb, G.J.W., Messel, H. and Magnusson, W.E. (1977). The nesting biology of Crocodylus porosus in
Arnhem Land, northern Australia. Copeia 1977:238-249.
Webb, G.J.W., Ottley, B., Britton, A.R.C. and Manolis, S.C. (2000). Recovery of Saltwater Crocodiles
(Crocodylus porosus) in the Northern Territory: 1971-1998. Internal report prepared for the Parks and
Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.
Webb, G.J.W., Sack, G.C., Buckworth, R. and Manolis, S.C. (1983). An examination of C. porosus nests
in two northern Australian freshwater swamps, with an analysis of embryo mortality. Australian
Wildlife Research 10:571-605.
Webb G.J.W. and Smith, A.M.A. (1987). Life history parameters, population dynamics and the
management of crocodilians. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife
Management: Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty. Ltd. in association with the
Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Sydney, pp. 199210.
Webb G.J.W., Whitehead, P.J. and Manolis, S.C. (1987). Crocodile management in the Northern Territory
of Australia. In: G.J.W. Webb, S.C. Manolis and P.J. Whitehead (Eds.), Wildlife Management:
Crocodiles and Alligators. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty. Ltd. in association with the Conservation
Commission of the Northern Territory, Sydney, pp. 107-124.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Appendix 1: Saltwater Crocodile Background


Information
Crocodylus porosus
Conservation status
Northern Territory (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act): Protected species but not listed
as threatened.
Australia (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC Act): Marine protected
species but not listed as threatened.
International (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)): Appendix II
for the Australian population. Australia is a party to CITES, and with the EPBC Act ensuring that its
obligations are discharged.
Distribution
Crocodylus. porosus are found from Sri Lanka and the east coast of India in the west to the
Caroline Islands in the east and from Myanmar and south-east Asia in the north to Australia in
the south. C. porosus inhabit coastal rivers and swamps, the open sea and island shorelines,
and their distribution extends well inland via major rivers and floodplain billabongs into
freshwater rivers, creeks and swamps.
In Australia, C. porosus occur in high densities in the tidal portions of some mangrove-lined
rivers; particularly those associated with extensive freshwater wetlands or floodplains.
C. porosus may therefore occur in any salt or fresh water within their range. Detailed
descriptions of C. porosus habitats within the Northern Territory are available in Letnic and
Connors 2006; Messel et al. 1981; Magnusson 1980; Magnusson et al. 1978; Magnusson and
Taylor 1980; Webb et al. 1977 1983; and Usback and James 1993.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Figure 1: The distribution of Crocodylus porosus in Australia (Source: Cogger 1993 modified).

Ecology
Cogger (1993) provides a general description of Crocodilia; Grigg and Gans (1993), CooperPreston and Jenkins (1993) and Molnar (1993) discuss morphology, physiology, natural history,
biogeography and phylogeny. Detailed discussion of many topics concerning crocodile biology
may be found in Webb et al. (1987).
Considerable research has been conducted into the biology and status of C. porosus in northern
Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory. Their biology, population dynamics, recovery
since protection and management have been the subject of intensive research efforts over the
last 30 years, the details of which are contained in a variety of publications (e.g. Bayliss and
Messel 1990; Burbridge 1987; Messel et al. 1981; Messel and Vorlicek 1985, 1986; Taplin 1987,
1990; Webb et al. 1984, 1987; Webb and Manolis 1989, 1993).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 1:

Summary of the biological characteristics of C. porosus (Source: Webb and


Manolis 1993 and citations therein)

Characteristic
Biology
Size and age at sexual maturity (males)
Size and age at sexual maturity (females)
Normal maximum length (males)
Normal maximum length (females)
Maximum length (males)
Maximum body weight
Nesting Season; months
Duration of egg laying
Mean clutch size; (range)
Mean egg weight; (range)
Mean hatchling weight
Egg incubation time (days)
Nest defence

C. porosus
3.3 m; 16 yrs
2.3 m; 12 yrs
4.6-5.2 m
3.1-3.4 m
6-7 m
900-1500 kg
Wet Season; Nov.-May.
28 weeks
50.0 (2-78)
113.0 g (65-147)
69.4 g
75 (at 33oC)-106 (at 29oC)
Common

Nesting ecology
Saltwater Crocodiles breed during in the wet season between October and May. Females
construct a mound of grasses and reeds that is typically located close to permanent water.
Freshwater swamps near tidal rivers and saltmarsh habitats are the most frequently used
nesting habitats (Webb et al. 1984; Webb & Manolis 1989). Mangrove swamps can also be
used for nesting. The extent and timing of nesting is related to rainfall and water levels in the
late dry season (Webb 1991). Years with high rainfall and cool conditions between August and
November are associated with high nesting effort. Conversely, years with poor rainfall and hot
conditions between August and November are associated with low nesting effort (Webb 1991).
The typical clutch size of C. porosus is approximately 50 eggs. The size of the clutch is
proportional to the size of the individual female. The clutch of first-time breeders is normally
around 30 eggs. Large crocodiles also produce larger eggs than smaller crocodiles (Webb &
Manolis 1989). Around 6.5% of the eggs laid are infertile (Webb & Manolis 1989). There is a
high mortality of Crocodylus porosus eggs with flooding being the major cause of deaths as it
may kill over 50% of the eggs laid each year (Webb & Manolis 1989).
Survivorship and population dynamics
There is a high mortality rate of crocodiles from egg to maturity. Webb and Manolis 1993
estimated rates of survival for several size classes of C. porosus in the wild: approximately 30%
of eggs usually hatch; 12% of hatchlings survive to one year; 85% of one year old crocodiles
survive to two years; 85% of two year olds survive to three years of age; 85% of three year olds
survive to four years of age; 85% of four year olds survive to five years of age. It follows that
about 6 crocodiles would survive to five years from 1,000 eggs laid. The actual rates of survival
between age five and maturity have never been established. Webb and Manolis (1993)
speculated that less than one per cent survive to breed. The survival rate of mature animals is
unknown.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

In the wild, females normally reach maturity at 2.3 m total length and approximately 12 years of
age. Males mature at around 3.3 m and about 16 years of age. The normal maximum size of C.
porosus is around 4.6 to 5.2 m for males and 3.1 to 3.4 m for females. Individual C. porosus
may live for more than 70 years (Webb and Manolis 1989).
Diet
The diets of C. porosus vary with the size of individuals. Hatchlings feed mainly on small crabs,
prawns and insects (Webb and Manolis 1989). Crabs and prawns are the major food items in
tidal rivers for crocodiles up to 2 m long. With increasing size, crocodiles feed on a greater
variety of food items and the diet of crocodiles over 2 m long includes fish, crabs, turtles, birds
and mammals. Large prey such as cattle and horses are eaten only by the largest of crocodiles.
Large crocodiles will also scavenge.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Appendix 2:

Farm Management

Farm Biosecurity
Farms are advised to follow the Biosecurity plan available from RDPIFR. Any signs of illness,
disease outbreak or unusual deaths should be reported as soon as possible to RDPIFR. The
crocodile industry will be alerted to any possible disease problems and a disease investigation will
be undertaken if needed. In the event of an emergency crocodile disease outbreak, the
Biosecurity plan would be mandated under the Livestock Act for the period of the emergency
animal disease response.
Farm Security
Farms are required to have secure fencing, capable of containing crocodiles, as a condition on the
permit to keep and trade. Fences and enclosures must be maintained to ensure animals cannot
escape. NRETAS will check farm security annually as part of the process for renewing permits.
Farm Data and Audit Validation
Each month farms will submit stock data to RDPIFR to validate and collate before it is submitted
to NRETAS each year. Individual farm performance data will be compared with Northern Territory
industry averages and provided to individual farms.
RDPIFR will validate monthly returns using annual physical audits for hatchlings and will also
conduct random spot audits for all other class of animal on the farm. Hatchlings will be audited
each year by hand counting all animals gained for that current year on the farm when they are
transferred to raising/yearling class pens.
Farm Visitation
Farms will be visited by RDPIFR under the powers of the Livestock Act to ensure animal welfare,
farm biosecurity, inspection of shipments, animal audits, disease investigation and any other
related matter. Farms will be visited by NRETAS to ensure that farms meet the conditions stated
on the Permit to Keep, investigate any wildlife breaches and other related matters.
Animal Welfare
Animal welfare on all crocodile farms will continue to comply with the Animal Welfare Act and
follow the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles
as stated in this Management Program. Animal welfare on farms will be enforced by RDPIFR as
animal welfare inspectors under the Animal Welfare Act.
Farm Workers OH&S
Workers on all crocodile farms that have duties involving handling crocodiles or being in close
contact with crocodiles must meet the relevant Northern Territory OH&S legislation.
Farmer Responsibilities
The responsibilities of farms are detailed in Table 1.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 1:

Stakeholder Responsibilities in the Saltwater Crocodile Management Program


2012 - 2014

Stakeholder
Department of Natural
Resources, Environment,
The Arts and Sport

Department of Regional
Development, Primary
Industries Fisheries and
Resources

Responsibilities

Assess applications and issue permits as appropriate.

Ensure compliance with permit conditions.

Issue permits for domestic shipments of live crocodiles from farms within
10 working days.

Remove and dispose of problem crocodiles from agreed intensively


managed areas.

Collate annual report to the Australian Government.

Compare wild egg collection data with farm hatchling data each year.

Review the Management program for the Saltwater Crocodile


(Crocodylus porosus) in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Ensure monthly returns from crocodile farms are submitted and collated.

Process applications for permits to import/export crocodile skins and


products both overseas and domestic within 2 business days of application.

Inspect crocodile skins and products for export and process appropriate
paperwork.

Annually audit the hatchlings on each farm to validate data in the monthly
returns.

Visit farms to ensure animal welfare standards are being met.

Ensure production data from monthly returns is collated, validated and


passed on to NRETAS annually.

Ensure each crocodile farm is given confidential feedback every 6 months


on their farm production performance compared with the Northern Territory
industry average.

Ensure the supply, payment and issue of skin tags for crocodile skins for
trade.

Investigate breaches in trade conditions or illegal trade of crocodilian


skins or products.

Implement the Biosecurity plan in the event of an emergency crocodile


disease outbreak

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Stakeholder
Northern Territory Crocodile
Farming Industry

Responsibilities

Comply with all permit conditions.

Submit production returns to RDPIFR each month.

Ensure animal welfare standards are being met in accordance with the
Animal Welfare Act and the Code of Practice.

During an emergency disease outbreak comply with the Biosecurity plan.

Ensure worker safety is not comprised by adhering to appropriate


Workplace Health and Safety requirements.

Assist RDPIFR and/or NRETAS to annually audit hatchlings.

Submit applications for permits to import/export crocodile shipments both


domestically and overseas to RDPIFR, at least two business days before the
date needed.

Ensure applications for inspections on shipment dates are lodged with


RDPIFR at least 10 working days in advance.

Ensure that a CITES permit has been issued and that CITES permit
numbers are available for overseas shipments of crocodile skins and
products.

Ensure that permit applications to remove live crocodiles from farms are
submitted to NRETAS at least ten working days before the desired transport
date.

Ensure an application to renew the commercial permit to keep and trade


for the farm is submitted to NRETAS before the current permit expires.

Submit any application(s) to NRETAS to harvest wild eggs by 31 August


each year.

Submit completed egg collection returns for the season to NRETAS by 31


July each year.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

APPENDIX 3: Saltwater Crocodile Densities In The


Rivers Monitored In The Northern Territory
Spotlight survey data are used to estimate the relative density of crocodiles on individual
rivers (usually tidal mainstream sections) as an index of the total crocodile population in the
catchment. The density is calculated in terms of the abundance (sighting) and biomass (kg)
of crocodiles per kilometre of a river surveyed. Three candidate regression models (linear,
exponential and logistic) are then fitted to approximate the pattern of population growth for
each river.
For each river the fit of each model is compared to determine the model that best describes
the population growth pattern using model selection parameters of Akaikes information
criterion corrected (AICc), difference in AICc (i), and Akaike weight (wi). The smaller the
AICc a model shows, the more support the model is considered to have. If a model has small
i (<2), it is generally considered highly supported (Burnham and Anderson 2002). The
strength of evidence that a model is the best in a set is measured by wi (%).
The following graphs plot non-hatchling crocodile density for each river with the model lines
fitted. Where the logistic model is selected, the expected asymptote is also shown on the
graphs. Details of the model selection parameters are provided in the table following the
graphs.
Note that the South Alligator River and West Alligator River in Kakadu National Park are
control rivers where no harvesting has occurred since protection in 1971.
The sighting density of crocodiles for seven of the twelve rivers, including those with
intensive harvesting (e.g. Adelaide River), most strongly support the logistic model (Figure 1,
Table 1). This suggests that the populations have been stabilising in recent years and are
approaching carrying capacity in some rivers. Other rivers are still increasing either linearly
or exponentially due to large variation in natural habitat quality (e.g. availability of nesting
sites) that also contributes to the large variation in density between rivers. Sampling error is
not taken into account.
The biomass density supports a logistic increase in six of the twelve rivers (Figure 2, Table
2). This suggests that the size of individuals has been stabilising in recent years and is
approaching carrying capacity in some rivers. Again, the large variation in density between
rivers is attributable to varying habitat quality (e.g. the Mary River is known to have an
unusually high density with large-sized animals) rather than an impact of harvesting as they
show the same trends as the control rivers.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Figure 1: Abundance density (sighting/km) plots with data up to 2004 (Daly), 2007 (Mary, Kakadu) and 2008
(Adelaide, Arnhem)

10

15

20

25

30

15
10

35

10

15

20

25

30

Mary River (Sampan Creek)

Wildman River

10
0

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

10
5

35

15

Years since protection (1971)

15

Years since protection (1971)

15

20

25

30

35

10

15

20

25

30

West Alligator River

South Alligator River

10

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

10

5
0

35

15

Years since protection (1971)

15

Years since protection (1971)

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

5
0

10

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

15

Adelaide River

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

Daly River

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

35

10

15

20

25

30

15
10

35

10

15

20

25

30

Tomkinson River

Cadell River

10
0

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

10
5

35

15

Years since protection (1971)

15

Years since protection (1971)

10

15

20

25

30

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Blyth River

Glyde River

10

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

10

5
0

35

15

Years since protection (1971)

15

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

5
0

10

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

15

Liverpool River

Non-hatchling density (sighting/km)

East Alligator River

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

35

10

15

20

25

30

35

Years since protection (1971)

Legend
Legend
Linear
Linear
Logistic
Logistic
Exponential
Exponential
Expected asymptote
asymptote
Expected

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 1:

Results of model selection fitted to the abundance density data. N = number of


years surveyed

River

Year (N)

Daly River

AICc

wi

34.07
39.20
26.06

8.01
13.14
0.00

1.79
0.14
98.08

60.77
62.28
58.27

2.50
4.01
0.00

20.16
9.48
70.36

70.73
78.11
58.92

11.81
19.19
0.00

0.27
0.01
99.72

71.70
72.47
70.74

0.97
1.73
0.00

30.28
20.65
49.07

57.12
58.48
50.92

0.02
7.57
6.19

4.24
2.13
93.63

72.58
79.04
65.52

7.07
13.52
0.00

2.84
0.11
97.05

74.57
78.14
78.85

0.00
3.57
4.28

77.8
13.05
9.15

31.64
33.96
28.13

3.51
5.84
0.00

14.08
4.41
81.52

49.67
47.16
--

2.51
0.00
--

22.16
77.84
--

69.34
69.32
--

0.00
0.03
--

49.67
50.33
--

76.15
76.23
78.43

2.27
0.08
0.00

14.04
42.16
43.80

17.35
19.37
22.72

0.00
2.02
5.37

69.85
25.40
4.76

1978-2004 (20)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Adelaide River

1977-2008 (24)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Mary River (Sampan Creek)

1984-2007 (17)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Wildman River

1978-2007 (18)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

West Alligator River

1977-2007 (18)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

South Alligator River

1977-2007 (19)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

East Alligator River

1977-2007 (23)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Liverpool River

1976-2008 (27)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Tomkinson River

1976-2008 (27)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Cadell River

1975-2008 (28)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Blyth River

1975-2008 (29)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Glyde River

1975-2008 (11)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

-- Not converged

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Figure 2: Biomass density (kg/km) plots with data up to 2004 (Daly), 2007 (Mary, Kakadu) and 2008 (Adelaide,
Arnhem)

10

15

20

25

30

1500
1000

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Mary River (Sampan Creek)

Wildman River

1000
0

500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

2500
1500
500

35

1500

Years since protection (1971)

3500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

500
0

500

1000

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

1500

Adelaide River

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

Daly River

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

35

10

15

20

25

30

1500
1000

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

East Alligator River

Liverpool River

1000
0

500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

2000
1500
1000
500
0

35

1500

Years since protection (1971)

2500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

500
0

500

1000

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

1500

South Alligator River

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

West Alligator River

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

35

10

15

20

25

30

1500
1000

35

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

Blyth River

Glyde River

1000
0

500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

1000
500
0

35

1500

Years since protection (1971)

1500

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

500
0

500

1000

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

1500

Cadell River

Non-hatchling density (kg/km)

Tomkinson River

10

15

20

25

30

Years since protection (1971)

35

10

15

20

25

30

35

Years since protection (1971)

Legend
Linear
Logistic
Exponential
Expected asymptote

Legend
Linear
Logistic
Exponential
Expected asymptote

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Table 2:
Results of model selection fitted to the biomass density data. N = number of
years surveyed
River

Year (N)

Daly River

AICc

wi

260.58
264.36
251.76

8.83
12.60
0

1.19
0.18
98.62

290.21
292.12
293.26

0.00
1.91
3.05

62.36
24.04
13.60

255.08
259.45
258.65

0.00
4.38
3.57

78.13
8.77
13.10

236.96
240.65
235.16

1.81
5.49
0.00

27.59
4.36
68.04

239.05
241.97
232.18

6.87
9.80
0.00

3.11
0.72
96.18

265.79
273.00
258.56

7.23
14.44
0.00

2.62
0.07
97.31

323.01
326.52
327.65

0.00
3.52
4.64

78.71
13.57
7.72

298.14
302.65
293.83

4.31
8.82
0.00

10.29
1.08
88.63

325.42
318.18
--

7.24
0.00
--

2.61
97.39
--

324.32
328.79
326.29

0.00
4.47
1.97

67.55
7.22
25.22

357.26
366.63
355.35

1.90
11.28
0.00

27.80
0.26
71.95

135.02
135.83
139.46

0.00
0.81
4.45

56.37
37.53
6.10

1978-2004 (20)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Adelaide River

1977-2008 (24)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Mary River (Sampan Creek)

1984-2007 (17)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Wildman River

1978-2007 (18)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

West Alligator River

1977-2007 (18)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

South Alligator River

1977-2007 (19)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

East Alligator River

1977-2007 (23)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Liverpool River

1976-2008 (27)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Tomkinson River

1976-2008 (27)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Cadell River

1975-2008 (28)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Blyth River

1975-2008 (29)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

Glyde River

1975-2008 (11)
Linear
Exponential
Logistic

-- Not converged

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Appendix 4:

Annual Milestone Matrix for 2012-2014 Program

Milestone

Program
Reference

Action Officer

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Objective 1 - To facilitate the sustainable use of Saltwater Crocodiles

Ensure all harvest permits minimise the possible negative


impact on or conflict with tourism, social or cultural interests.
Develop and implement a GIS database to assist with both
allocation of eggs and monitoring harvest effort and compliance.
Investigate and take appropriate action on all suspected local
impacts on the population.
Instigate adaptive management actions should there be any
increased threats to the Saltwater Crocodile and their habitat.
Ensure the harvest ceiling is set in accordance with the
provisions of this management program.
Assess all permit applications and ensure egg allocation is
distributed across harvest regions in accordance with the
provisions of this management program.
Ensure that the annual commercial harvest of Saltwater
Crocodiles does not exceed the approved ceiling for each
category.
Assess applications and issue permits under the TPWC Act.
Monitor and audit harvest applications, approvals and returns
and investigate and resolve any discrepancies.
Ensure all permit applications have correct landholder approval.
Ensure monthly farm stock returns comply with permit conditions
and are reported half yearly to farms and NRETAS.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

4.1 Restrictions
on live animal
harvesting.
4.1 Harvest
ceilings.
4.1 Harvest
ceilings.
4.1 Harvest
ceilings.

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Director, Wildlife
Use
Director, Wildlife
Use
Director, Wildlife
Use

Commenc
e
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review

review

review

review

review

4.1 Harvest
ceilings.

Director, Wildlife
Use

July September

July
September

July
September

4.1 Harvest
ceilings

Director, Wildlife
Use

September
- October

September
October

September
October

4.2 Permits and


compliance.

Director, Wildlife
Use North

July September

July
September

July
September

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review
Ongoing,
review

4.2 Permits and Director, Wildlife


compliance
Use
4.2 Permits and Director, Wildlife
compliance
Use
4.2 Permits and Director, Wildlife
compliance
Use
4.2 Permits and
RDPIFR
compliance

July
Septembe
r
Septembe
r
October
July
Septembe
r

July September
September
- October
July September

Milestone
Audit farm hatchlings annually.

Program
Reference
4.2 Permits and
compliance

Action Officer
RDPIFR

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

annually

annually

annually

annually

annually

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

July September

July
September

July
September

July
Septembe
r

July September

annually

annually

annually

annually

annually

Objective 1 - To facilitate the sustainable use of Saltwater Crocodiles cont.

Ensure compliance with the issue of skin tags and permits.


Conduct random checks on farm stock numbers.
Review permit conditions annually and amend where necessary.

4.2 Permits and


compliance
4.2 Permits and
compliance

RDPIFR
RDPIFR

4.2 Permits and Director, Wildlife


compliance
Use

Ensure compliance with permit conditions is at or near 100% and


4.2 Permits and Director, Wildlife
addressing permit breaches through warning letters, caution
compliance
Use
notices, infringement notices or prosecution is at or near 100%.
Review and analyse available data to describe changes to
4.3 Management- Director, Wildlife
Saltwater Crocodile populations and their distribution and publish
focused research.
Use
the outcomes as appropriate.
Develop population/harvest simulation models to provide an
4.3 Management- Director, Wildlife
additional decision support tool to assess harvest options and
focused research.
Use
possible harvest impacts at different spatial scales.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Commenc
e
Commenc
e

Milestone

Program
Reference

Action Officer

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Objective 2 - To promote community awareness and public safety

Analyse the risk of areas where human interaction with


crocodiles may occur and prepare options for the appropriate
level of management actions.
Analyse problem crocodile capture data to assess trends and
identify areas of increasing risk to humans.
Develop and implement a CROCWISE plan to educate and
heighten the awareness of the dangers of crocodiles in the
Northern Territorys waterways.
Issue permits to remove problem crocodiles as necessary and
appropriate.
Maintain the program to remove all crocodiles in designated
Intensively Managed zones.
NRETAS responds to reports of problem crocodiles and
implements appropriate management measures.

Risk
Assessment

Director, Wildlife
Use

Commence

Risk
Assessment

Director, Wildlife
Use

Commence

Risk
Assessment

Marketing and
Communications

Commence

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing, as
needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing as
needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Director, Wildlife
Use

Commence

4.4 Removal of
problem
crocodiles.
4.4 Removal of
problem
crocodiles.
4.4 Removal of
problem
crocodiles.
4.4 Removal of
problem
crocodiles.

Re-define the Darwin Harbour Intensively Managed zone to


include high risk areas of the entire catchment and include the
waterways of the Darwin rural area.
Continue to conduct public awareness, safety and educational
message campaigns through Northern Territory Government
staff, effective use of the media and on the Northern Territory
Government website.
Conduct market research to assess the best communication
methods for targeting and informing all sectors of the
community about living safely with crocodiles.

4.5 Community
awareness and
participation.

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing, as
needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

4.5 Community
awareness and
participation

Marketing and
Communications

Commence

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Develop and implement a public safety communication plan.

4.5 Community
awareness and
participation

Marketing and
Communications

Commence

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Ongoing,
as needs

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Milestone

Program
Reference

Action Officer

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Objective 3 - To ensure humane treatment of Saltwater Crocodiles

Ensure the requirements of the Code of Practice are a


condition on all permits and that a copy of the Code is
distributed to all new permit holders
Ensure all successful permit applicants are competent to
comply with the relevant animal welfare standards.
Ensure all crocodile farms meet animal welfare standards.
Inspect farms regularly to ensure animal welfare standards
are met.
Investigate and take appropriate action on any suspected
breaches of the Animal Welfare Act or the Code of Practice.

4.6 Animal
welfare

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

4.6 Animal
welfare
4.6 Animal
welfare
4.6 Animal
welfare
4.6 Animal
welfare

Director, Wildlife
Use

July September

July
September

July
September

July
September

July September

RDPIFR

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

RDPIFR

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Ongoing

Director, Wildlife
Use

Ongoing as
needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Ongoing
as needs

Commence
JuneSeptember
July September

Review
JuneSeptember
July
September

Review
JuneSeptember
July
September

Review
JuneSeptember
July
September

Review
JuneSeptember
July September

Objective 4 - To monitor and report on the impact of the harvest of Saltwater Crocodiles

Continue the population survey program for Saltwater


Crocodiles as stipulated in this program.
Analyse and assess the results of the survey program and
implement any resulting management recommendations.
Annually audit the progress of the Management Program
against each of the performance indicators and adjust
management practices as necessary.
Submit annual reports to the Australian Government and
provide a summary on the Northern Territory Government
website.
Review and update the Management program by 2014.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

4.7 Monitoring

Director, Wildlife
Use

4.7 Monitoring

Director, Wildlife
Use

4.8 Reporting

Director, Wildlife
Use

March

March

March

March

March

4.8 Reporting

Director, Wildlife
Use

October

October

October

October

October

4.8 Reporting

Director, Wildlife
Use

commence

complete

Appendix 5: Draft Guidelines for the Safari


Hunting of Crocodiles in the Northern Territory
Safari hunting presents an opportunity to harvest a small number of crocodiles for a
substantial financial gain and is expected to return at least several thousands of dollars more
per individual than crocodiles harvested for the skin/meat market. Safari hunting operations
for buffalo and banteng on Aboriginal lands currently provide trophy fees of up to $1,500 per
buffalo and $2,900 per banteng to Aboriginal landholders. Safari hunting of crocodiles is
projected to provide trophy fees of $5,000 to $10,000 per crocodile to landholders
(Indigenous and non-Indigenous). Further, safari operations on Aboriginal land may provide
employment opportunities for Aboriginal landholders in safari operations; either those run by
third-party operators or by Indigenous groups. Given the financial gains that are likely to
accrue, it is expected that safari hunting will increase the incentive for landholders to protect
crocodiles and crocodile habitats, particularly in remote areas. Safari hunting should not be
used as a means of controlling problem crocodiles. The Department of Natural Resources,
Environment, the Arts and Sport (NRETAS) aims to ensure that safari hunting of crocodiles
conforms to the highest possible standards of animal welfare and stewardship of the
environment. NRETAS requires that all safari hunting operations comply with the Code of
Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles. This appendix
sets out the draft guidelines for safari hunting of crocodiles and draft minimum standards for
safari operators. The guidelines will be refined following consultation with a broad range of
stakeholders. Stakeholders to be consulted will include Indigenous landholders and
pastoralists, safari operators and tourism operators within the range of the saltwater
crocodile in the Northern Territory, the Northern Territory and Australian Government
agencies with responsibility for crocodile management, the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa
Land Councils, the NT Cattlemens Association , the Safari Hunters Association of Australia
and animal welfare agencies. Consultation will commence within twelve months of safari
hunting being approved. The actual trial of safari hunting will not commence until this
consultation is completed.

1.

The quota for safari hunting

The proposed management options for adult and juvenile crocodiles include a harvest quota
of 400 juveniles and 500 adults that can be taken directly from the wild under permit. Of the
500 adults that can be taken there will be a sub-quota of 50 animals greater than 3.5 m in
length that can be taken by safari hunters. Therefore crocodiles taken as safari animals will
not be additional to the current harvest quota.
There will be no upper size limit but the hunting of large iconic crocodiles will be subject to
restrictions detailed in section 4.1 Commercial harvest and use Restrictions on live animal
harvesting p.18 of the Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern
Territory of Australia, 2012-2014. The management program states that the Northern Territory
Government will seek to maintain the presence of a visible crocodile population and large
iconic (generally 4.5 m) individuals through the creation of zones where harvesting of life
cycle stages other than eggs is restricted. Harvesting will be prohibited or restricted in some
areas or circumstances if necessary to maintain local or regional populations or to maintain
non-use benets from the species. Large individuals can be removed wherever there is a
public safety or livestock concern. In general, harvesting of juvenile and adult crocodiles will
not normally be permitted: i. In waterways where the watercourse forms the boundary
between two or more properties; ii. In catchments that are heavily used by the tourism and
shing industry e.g. the Mary River catchment downstream of the Arnhem Highway, the
Adelaide River catchment downstream of the Marrakai Crossing, the East Alligator River, and
the Daly River catchment west of Oolloo Crossing. Where low level harvest is permitted such
as for skins, farms or for safari hunting, it will be strongly regulated to ensure that tourism

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

interests are not damaged: and iii. From sites where crocodiles are particularly signicant to
local Indigenous people.
Safari hunting of crocodiles will be limited to the hunting of wild crocodiles. A wild crocodile is
defined as an animal that has never been captive. The safari hunting of crocodiles that have
been drugged or are contained within an enclosure of any type is prohibited. Safari hunting
will generally be restricted to off-stream habitats such as billabongs and ox-bow lakes.

2.

Management of permits for safari hunting

Taking native fauna requires a permit under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act
2000. Under this Saltwater Crocodile Management Program up to 50 safari crocodile permits
will be issued each year. In the first year that safari hunting is approved under the
Management Program there will be consultation with stakeholders to determine the
administrative processes that will be required for obtaining and complying with a permit to
harvest crocodiles. These consultations will finalise the detailed specific requirements for
safari operations contained in these guidelines, will determine the specifics of the allocation
of crocodiles for safari hunting across the Top End of the Northern Territory, and will finalise
specific requirements for the issuing of a permit by the responsible Northern Territory
government department (NRETAS).
2.1

Expressions of interest

Expressions of interest in safari hunting will be sought each year. The right to access these
safari animals will be subject to application by landholders only. In general a maximum of five
crocodiles may be tendered for by each landholder. In this instance a landholder would be,
for example, a pastoral lease holder or a group (Traditional Owners) who would negotiate a
Land Use Agreement under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. This limit is in
place to prevent a monopoly arising. Applicants will have to meet requirements specified by
NRETAS. The requirements will include:
Provision of a current map showing the location of areas where the hunts are to be
conducted.
Provision of information on the numbers and sizes of crocodiles within that area.
An outline of the conservation efforts made by the landholder.
An outline of the number of animals to be hunted.
Provision of information on the operation of the hunt.
An overview of the economic benefits of the harvest to the community.
2.2

Approval authority

Expressions of interest will be assessed by NRETAS and the authority for a permit to be
issued will reside with the Director of Parks and Wildlife. The allocation of crocodiles and the
assessment of expressions of interest by NRETAS will be based on the
outcomes/recommendations of the consultations with stakeholders as previously outlined.
2.3

Issue of permits

If successful, a landholder will receive notification from the Director of Parks and Wildlife that
they have secured the rights for a crocodile(s) to be taken by safari hunting on their land. The
landholder would then select a safari operator who would apply for a safari-hunting permit.
The application for a safari hunting permit by the safari operator must be accompanied by the
written nomination of the safari operator by the landholder. The application for a permit must
include the landholder as a nominee on the permit. The client(s) who will be participating in a
hunt must be a nominee on the permit to take. Nominations of the client(s) must be made in
writing and demonstrate the written consent of both the safari operator and the landholder.
Nomination of the client(s) must include any requirements imposed on the safari operator in

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

relation to the client(s). Nomination of the client(s) may be done after the issue of the permit
but must be approved by NRETAS prior to a hunt being conducted.
Permits to take wildlife are not ongoing; they will be issued for a specified period. Safari
operators will have to negotiate with a landholder for access to lands for which the safari
permits have been granted. Permits to take wildlife do not authorise entry onto land to carry
out the activities authorised by the permit without the consent of the owner or the occupier of
the land. The land on which the hunt is to be conducted may be leasehold or freehold. In the
case of Aboriginal Land Trusts this negotiation must be made through the relevant land
council. Generally this will involve the negotiation of a Land Use Agreement under the
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act .The permit will specify the area of land where
the hunt is to take place.
Permit applications under the safari-hunting program will attract a management fee payable
to NRETAS, including cost-recovery for the provision for selected hunts to be accompanied
by a NRETAS Conservation Officer.

3. Requirements for safari operators


Prior to conducting a hunt, the safari operator must provide NRETAS with the details of the
permit under which the hunt will be undertaken. This information must include details of when
and where the hunt will occur, the people participating in the hunt, and the vehicles and
methods to be used. The permit that is issued will be valid for one crocodile only. If a
crocodile is wounded during the hunt and escapes, the permit will be void and the operator
must, as soon as possible after the incident, notify NRETAS of the details and the crocodiles
last known location. Furthermore, the wounded crocodile will have been taken under the
permit and will count against the allocation of crocodiles that may be taken by safari hunting.
A reallocation/replacement permit will not be issued and the landholder, safari operator and
safari client(s) are prohibited from taking an alternate crocodile to replace any that is not
recovered.
Prior to any permit(s) being issued, safari operators must have membership of an Australian
based shooters/hunters association that has an acceptable code of conduct governing
hunting practice. Proof of membership must be provided with the permit application.
NRETAS will assess the suitability of each proponent to undertake safari hunting. Persons
who have been convicted of firearms, wildlife or animal welfare related offences will not be
approved to operate in the Northern Territory.

4. Clients
Prior to a client being nominated to participate in a hunt, clients must meet the following
requirements:
Licensing: Safari operators must ensure that all clients have met all requirements for
the carriage, storage and use of the clients specific firearms under the Northern
Territory Firearms Act. When nominating the client for inclusion as a nominee on the
permit the safari operator must provide documentary proof that these requirements
have been met.
Grouping and zeroing the rifle to be used: It is a requirement that the safari operator
ensure that the rifle to be used during the hunt is grouped and zeroed in before the
hunt. When nominating the client for inclusion as a nominee on the permit the safari
operator must provide documentary proof that grouping and zeroing has been carried
out. This must take the form of a Statutory Declaration by a qualified witness giving
details of the location(s), date(s) and time(s) that grouping and zeroing was
undertaken. A qualified witness is defined as a certified firearms instructor (other than
a person employed by the safari operator).

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

5.

Marksmanship: Safari operators must ensure that their clients have sufficient
marksmanship skills to safely and humanely conduct the hunt. When nominating the
client for inclusion as a nominee on the permit the safari operator must provide
documentary proof that they have assessed the clients marksmanship skills. This
must take the form of a Statutory Declaration by a qualified witness giving details of
the location(s), date(s), time(s) and assessment of the clients marksmanship. A
qualified witness is defined as a certified firearms instructor (other than a person
employed by the safari operator).

Methods for hunting crocodiles

To ensure that all animals are killed humanely and in accordance with the provision of the
Animal Welfare Act 2002 and the Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and
Farmed Australian Crocodiles (Code of Practice), the method of hunting crocodiles under the
safari-hunting program is restricted to shooting. A humane kill is one that causes
instantaneous loss of consciousness upon projectile entry and results in serious damage to
bodily functions from which the animal cannot recover. It is the safari operators responsibility
to brief the client on the methods of hunting crocodiles. The safari operator must also brief
the client on the Code of Practice. Material to be used by safari operators in briefing clients
on the methods of hunting crocodiles and the Code of Practice will be developed by NRETAS
during consultations with stakeholders. Shooting of crocodiles may only be conducted if the
following conditions are met:
Crocodiles taken as safari animals must be a minimum of 3.5 m total length.
Crocodiles must be hunted and shot when they are sitting out of the water on the
banks of waterways. Crocodiles cannot be shot while they are in the water. The entire
body of a crocodile must be above the watermark before a shot is discharged.
Shooting must only be carried out during daylight hours, spotlight shooting at night (or
any other form of night shooting) is not permitted.
Shooting from a boat is only permitted where the carcass can be recovered from the
boat and where the requirement that the guide must have arms to shoulder to provide
a back-up shot in the event that the crocodile is wounded by the clients shot can be
met.
Shooting of crocodiles may only be carried out using a centre-fire rifle of not less than
0.30 calibre. Ammunition with bullet weight of not less than 160 grains is to be used.
The combination of the above minimum rifle calibre and bullet weight must deliver a
minimum kinetic energy of 2700Nm at 100m. A telescopic sight must be used during
the hunt and the shot should not be fired from a distance of more than 50 m from the
quarry.
Shooting must only be carried out in environmental conditions that allow an
unobstructed view of the quarry when the shot is fired.
The shot must be delivered to the cranial platform of the head.
Conditions at the time of shooting must also allow a high probability of recovery of the
carcass to obtain the skin/head trophy. Crocodiles should not be shot where there is
the possibility that the carcass may slide into the water, or where access to the
carcass is restricted, e.g., by presence of other crocodiles, by steep banks or by
dense vegetation.
To ensure a humane kill, the guide must at the time of shooting have arms to
shoulder and provide a back-up shot in the event that the crocodile is wounded by the
clients shot.

6. Monitoring of safari hunting

Crocodiles taken under the safari hunting quota must, on capture, be marked by a
skin-tag pre-issued by NRETAS to identify the animals as being taken legally under
an approved management program.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

Safari operators will be required to keep true and accurate records of their activities,
including who was involved in the hunt, the permit number under which the crocodile
was taken, the exact location (GPS coordinates) at which the crocodile was taken
and the sex and total length of the crocodile taken. Safari operators are required to
submit the records of each hunt to NRETAS within 21 days of completing a hunt.
Skins and skulls taken as trophies must be presented to NRETAS for inspection
before a Northern Territory export permit is issued. The client cannot apply for a
CITES export permit without a Northern Territory export permit issued by NRETAS. At
the time of presentation of skins, the method of destruction will be verified to ensure
that operators have complied with the permit conditions and animal welfare
standards.
NRETAS will retain the right for Conservation Officers to accompany any hunt
throughout the life of the safari hunting program, with the requirement to accompany
hunts determined by annual review of the programs operations. In the first year of the
trial safari hunting program Conservation Officers will accompany ten to twenty
percent of randomly selected hunts to ensure that safari hunting guidelines are met.
Pending the outcome of the annual review of the safari hunting program, NRETAS in
consultation) the Australian Government department responsible for administering the
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) will
consider either increasing or decreasing the proportion of accompanied hunts in
subsequent years. NRETAS will advise the Australian Government department
responsible for administering the EPBC Act of scheduled hunts.

7.
Performance indicators to assess the success of the trial safari hunting
program
The principal performance indicators to be considered will be:
Level of compliance by landholders and safari operators with requirements for issue
of permit, requirements for safari operators and clients, methods for hunting
crocodiles and monitoring of safari hunting is assessed by annual audit as
acceptable.
Views of stakeholders including landholders, safari hunters, animal welfare
representatives and the general community on the operations and financial benefits
of the trial safari hunting program have been sought and assessed.
The compliance program, including management of permits and inspections of safari
operations and trophies, is adequate to evaluate the level of compliance.

8.

Reporting on safari hunting

NRETAS will provide the Australian Government department responsible for administering
the EPBC Act with a report on the operations of the safari hunting program each year. This
report will be included as a component of the annual report to the Australian Government
department responsible for administering the EPBC Act required under the Management
Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012 2014. The
report will provide the following information:
The number of safari hunting permits issued each year.
The number of animals taken, the size and sex of each animal and the locations from
which they were taken.
The assessment of annual audit of compliance with the safari hunting guidelines.
The land tenure of the areas where animals were harvested. A summary of feedback
on the safari hunting program as gathered from consultation with stakeholders
including landholders, safari hunters, animal welfare representatives and the general
community.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory

9.

Timeline

The timelines for the trial safari hunting program as a component of the Management
Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012 2014 are:
October 2012 to March 2013 stakeholder consultations and finalisation of safari
hunting guidelines.
April 2013 to May 2013 submission of finalised safari hunting guidelines to
Australian Government for approval.
June 2013 call for expressions of interest for safari hunting of crocodiles.
July 2013 evaluation of expressions of interest and advice to landholders.
August 2013 issue of permits.
September 2013 to June 2014 initial trial safari harvest under approved
management program.
July 2014 to September 2014 evaluation of trial safari hunting of crocodiles,
including consultation with stakeholders.
October 2014 report to the Australian Government department responsible for
administering the EPBC Act on the trial safari hunting of crocodiles as part of the
annual report required under the Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in
the Northern Territory of Australia, 2012 2014.

10.

Adaptive Management

The success of the trial safari hunting program will be reviewed each year in annual reports
submitted to the Australian Government department responsible for administering the EPBC
Act and on expiry to ensure that the goal and aims of this management plan are achieved. If
required, the Director of Parks and Wildlife may impose changes to the operations of the
safari hunting program, additional permit conditions or limitations on the size of crocodiles to
ensure that the goal and aims of this crocodile management program are achieved.

11.

Penalties for non-compliance

Under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000, wildlife related offences carry a
penalty of up to $68,500 or imprisonment for five years for a person and up to$342,500 in the
case of a body corporate. Failure to comply with the conditions of a permit issued under the
Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 carries a penalty of up to $6,850 for a
person and up to $34,250 for a body corporate.

Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile in the Northern Territory