Crocodiles swimming in Queensland’s suburbs after the worst floods

Cairns Floods
Cairns floods. Image: EPA via BBC.

NEWS AND COMMENT: You might have heard about the worst floods to hit northern Queensland. Some say it’s another symptom of global warming to which, I have to add, Australia contributes by excavating coal and selling it to China but that’s another story.

The floods have washed crocodiles from rivers and swamps into the suburbs of Queensland where they have to be caught to protect the public and one such individual who is a crocodile expert is Tony Frisby who grew up with his friend Steve Irwin in rural Queensland. You may remember Steve Irwin who was killed by a stingray as I recall while filming for his television programmes.

Frisby is in big demand and last week he and his team drove up to a small country town called Ingram which is about 70 miles up the coast from where he lives in Townsville.

A friend of his saw video footage on social media of a saltwater crocodile’s head in fast flowing water from a flooded drain near a petrol station. I believe the video from the BBC is the said croc.

Frisby had to catch it and he’s very good at catching crocodiles. This particular crocodile was 8’6″ long which is big enough but about half the size of the biggest crocodile that Frisby has caught.

He employs various techniques to catch them and on this occasion the flood water was too deep and flowing too quickly to use a baited trap and he therefore used a lasso to grab the crocodiles topped yaw to then drag the animal into a cage where it was loaded onto the back of a flatbed lorry and driven to a holding facility in Townsville.

Frisby commented: “The challenge is being able to get close enough to reach it with a pole and then use some tricks to make it open its mouth and accept the noose without scaring it away. It put up a fair bit of a fight.”

The flooding has been caused by tropical cyclone Jasper resulting a year’s worth of rain to fall on northern Queensland this month. There’s been some alarming video footage of large crocodiles swimming through the main street of Wujal Wujal. This is an aboriginal community and it’s been inundated with flood water from the overflowing Bloomfield River.

Another crocodile was seen last Thursday near a suburban lake in northern Cairns. And there’s been venomous snakes carried along in the floodwater. Cows and wallabies have also been caught up in it.

The local police have warned people to be very careful about being in water. The Queensland police Commissioner, Katarina Caroll said: “You would recall from past events we have found sharks, crocs and you name it.”

The scale of flooding has been described as “unprecedented” by Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. He doesn’t want tourists to cancel their holidays as a result because that would harm Queensland further, in this instance financially.

Much of Cairns has been submerged and rivers in the area have reached their highest level since 1915.

There are lots of crocodiles in Queensland with many sightings under normal circumstances. The public is encouraged to report sightings on the government’s QWildlife mobile application or by calling a hotline. Most of the sightings occur in prime crocodile habitat such as near rivers, lagoons and swamps.

The Sunday Times reports that the crocodile population has surged since the mid-1970s and therefore there is the occasional attack albeit rare. The increase has been due to a declaration that the crocodile is a protected species after they were hunted to the brink of extinction.

In Queensland it is believed there are between 20,000-30,000 saltwater and freshwater crocodiles.

My thanks to The Sunday Times.

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