Human remains have been found inside a crocodile that has been connected to the death of a 69-year-old fisherman on Queensland’s north coast.
Queensland police said the 4.2 metre long animal was examined by a specialist in Cairns, who discovered human remains inside it.
The examination came after Department of Environment and Science officers removed the crocodile from a spot near Hinchinbrook Island, halfway between Cairns and Townsville.
The fisherman was last seen on Thursday afternoon. He failed to return from what was supposed to be an hour-long fishing excursion in Gayundah Creek, police were told.
The man’s wife contacted police when he failed to return home and she was unable to contact him via radio.
Early Friday morning, the man’s two-metre long boat was found upside-down.
On Saturday, human remains were found in a search area near Hinchinbrook Island.
Police believe those remains are from the missing man, but it has not yet been confirmed by forensic testing.
That discovery prompted a search for a crocodile, involving State Emergency Service volunteers, Coast Guard personnel, DES officials and police.
A report will be prepared for the coroner and police said their investigation would continue.
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Authorities in Far North Queensland fear a fisherman missing for more than 24 hours has been taken by a crocodile.
Police say the 69-year-old man left his yacht in a 2-metre dinghy to go fishing near Hinchinbrook Island on Thursday afternoon.
He failed to return that night, prompting an air and sea search.
There was no sign of the man, but his capsized and damaged dingy was located early on Friday morning.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) said its experts had examined the craft and deemed it highly likely a crocodile was involved.
DES said the exact circumstances remained unclear but that wildlife teams were trying to locate the reptile.
The last fatal crocodile attack in Queensland occurred in October 2017, when Anne Cameron, 79, was attacked on the banks of a creek inlet near the Mowbray River, north of Cairns.
She had disappeared from a nearby aged care facility after going for a walk.
Ms Cameron’s jewellery and walking stick had been found on the banks of the creek and the crocodile was later found and killed.
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A tragic encounter occurred as a man was quickly rushed to the hospital after an apparent crocodile attack in the Far North Queensland.
In an interview with a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman, he revealed that the man, aged 40, was just swimming of Lake Placid Road in Cairns before 1:00 pm when he was attacked.
Sadly, he sustained lacerations to his head, face, hand and shoulder and was taken to Cairns Hospital and is now in a stable condition.
As per Paul Sweeney, a critical care paramedic said the man was conscious and luckily did just suffer grave injuries. “There was definite evidence of puncture wounds through his scalp … from either the upper or lower jaw … corresponding to a bite. The animal has bitten the top of his head, with jaws either side.”
More so, the man had minor puncture wounds to his right shoulder and one finger, yet the injuries did not appear to have fractured his skull.
“The gentleman explained that he was swimming in the water doing some training … he felt this sudden impact clasp on the top of his head which he recognized to be a crocodile. He put his hands into the jaws to prize them off his head and when he did so and let go, the jaw snapped shut onto his left forefinger.” Mr Sweeney said.
According to the paramedics the man then swam back to the bank and dragged himself out of the water and asserted it was extremely lucky to escape without more serious injuries saying, “had the crocodile bitten into his neck or his throat where the major blood vessels are, then it could have been a fatality — he’s a very lucky man.”
Further updates reveal that man is expected to make full recovery as his wounds need to be treated.
Senior scientist Carol Palmer from the NT Government whale and dolphin revealed that whales had never been tackled up the river before.
Despite the loss of one, the scientist has not given up hope of finding Humpy. She even spent 16 hours in a day, which was her last day of Christmas annual leave, just to look for traces of the cetacean on the South and East Alligator rivers.
“We’re actually really relieved that Humpy wasn’t there. We looked with binoculars all along the foreshore and things like that. I’m just really relieved that we didn’t come across him stranded. So we’re really hoping that Humpy just decided ‘no, this water is way too hot. It’s time for me to go’.” She said.
With these extensive efforts, Dr Palmer cannot rule out Humpy’s death since its last sighting on November 10 at Point Farewell.
“We can’t guarantee that he didn’t pass away and float out and things like that. It’s such a remote place. Anything could have happened.”
Unfortunately, Humpy’s condition did not look good.
During his most recent sighting, he was doing this big circle and we could sort of see his weight had deteriorated, according to the senior scientist.
She added “But he was still swimming, doing his thing. He was a very gentle 16-metre, 40,000-kilo whale, and was engaging in many ways, certainly not aggressive. It was really lovely to see him like that.”
The East Alligator River, as what the name suggests, is a crocodile-inhabited body of water, but it seems no croc was courageous enough to take on Humpy.
Meanwhile, many suggested the use of GPS, but on a whale is not so easy. According to Dr Palmer “It’s like having a really big arm injection — it hurts, and it wasn’t worth risking making him stand.”
She is currently depending on dorsal fin photograph identification of Humpy, with hopes for a sighting when whales return in June.
The creature, officially named Paludirex vincenti, measured more than 16 feet (five meters) long and dominated waterways in southeastern Queensland, according to a press release from the University of Queensland (UQ) published Monday.
It lived between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago, researcher Jorgo Ristevski, a PhD candidate at UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, told PeerJ, the journal which published the research.
Researchers identified the giant crocodile from fossils dug up in the 1980s near a town named Chinchilla.
The species is named after Geoff Vincent, who found a fossilized skull of the prehistoric animal. “Paludirex” means swamp king in Latin and “vincenti” honors Vincent, according to Ristevski,
“The ‘swamp king’ was one intimidating croc,” said Ristevski in the press release. “Its fossilized skull measures around 65 centimeters, so we estimate Paludirex vincenti was at least five meters long.”
The largest living crocodile, the Indo-Pacific crocodile — Crocodylus porosus — grows to about the same size, he added.
“But Paludirex had a broader, more heavy-set skull so it would’ve resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids,” said Ristevski.
The species was one of the top predators in Australia at the time it lived, and would have been able to eat giant prehistoric marsupials, according to the press release.
Two species of crocodile — Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnstoni — still live in Australia today, and it is not clear why Paludirex vincenti died out.
“Whether Paludirex vincenti went extinct as a result of competition with species like Crocodylus porosus is hard to say,” said Steve Salisbury, senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences and Ristevski’s supervisor at UQ.
“The alternative is that it went extinct as the climate dried, and the river systems it once inhabited contracted — we’re currently investigating both scenarios.”
In September, an enormous saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) measuring 14.4 feet (4.4 meters) was caught at a remote tourist hotspot in Australia’s Northern Territory.
The crocodile, estimated to weigh 771 pounds (350 kilograms), was captured by wildlife rangers at a trap in the Flora River Nature Park, a popular tourist destination southwest of the outback town of Katherine.
A team of researchers from the Charles Darwin University (CDU) will lead a project of assessing the ecosystem, after a boom of predator population has taken place across Northern Australia in the past half-century.
The scientists are now set to look at the ecological impact on estuarine crocodile numbers.
Saltwater crocodiles were declared a protected species in 1971. Since then, the number is fairly well-known – the estimate has gone from 3,000 in the 1970s to over 100,000 crocodiles in the Northern Territory today.
That being said, ecologist Keller Kopf from the CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods said there has been little formal investigation in the effect of that key conservation decision.
“We are really trying to understand what the ecological role of crocodiles is in waterways up here,” Dr Kopf said. “Surprisingly, for such a large enigmatic animal where we have been doing research on the population numbers for years, we know very little about how they directly influence the environments they are in.” He added.
The ecological study involves estimating the number of food types of prey needed to support river-based, estuarine crocodile populations in the NT. This would be a joint effort by the CDU, Darwin’s Larrakia Rangers and government researchers.
The primary goal was to help inform future policy decisions on saltwater crocodile management and assess how much longer the environment could sustain their population growth. Similar studies have been made in the populations of the wolf in North America and sharks on coral reefs. Some of these researches cited that a larger predatory population is not bad at all.
It was said that unexpected benefits are garnered from having a large predator population. But it is yet to study if that is the case here.
Given the decades when hunting for skins, meat and skulls have been legalized; numerous species of animals have been eradicated. Hence, the crocodile populations in the Northern Territory were depleted.
Since the protection was declared, fatal and not-fatal crocodile attacks have fueled continuous debate about the management of the animals. This worried cattle station owners and Roger Matthews, a commercial crocodile catcher.
With the increase of crocodile numbers and his 30 years in the industry, he cited that they are found in places where he hasn’t seen them before. Adding to the threat is the upcoming wet season where they could have the opportunity to move around places generally.
Given that, the CDE study will take place over three years, and many are starting to worry that the community casualties may occur prior to the conclusion of the said study.
A population of saltwater crocodiles has been found living far from their natural habitat. Hence, Far North Queensland council is calling on the State Government to remove them before they reproduce.
They were found congregating in the Lake Mitchell and Two Mile Creek waterways, in the Quaids Dam area near Mareeba. They found it bizarre because this is an area were crocodiles are not normally found.
On two surveys commissioned by the Mareeba Shire Council on local waterways, Atherton Tablelands, in the Cairns hinterland, are 400 meters above sea level and 65 kilometres from the coastline.
Thus, it is not known exactly how the reptiles got into the area, but speculations suggest they may have escaped from a nearby crocodile farm, several years ago.
Top End Crocodile Service’s Brodie Moloney, was commissioned by the council to conduct the survey, using a range of methods, including an aerial survey, spotlighting at night in kayaks and strolling along riverbanks.
Angela Toppin, Mareeba Mayor, stated they commissioned the said survey as a result of community fears that the crocodiles might wander into the Barron River and might present a threat to the swimming and recreational area.
Council Toppin added, “We are not a natural habitat for saltwater crocodiles, and eventually these crocodiles will mature to a stage where they will reproduce, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t move into other waterways”.
She then emphasized that these crocodiles needed to be removed and that the State Government is encouraged to move very fast on this matter.
The survey results found no evidence of saltwater crocodiles in the Barron River, instead, several small isolated pockets of freshwater crocodiles, which are naturally found in the area.
The surveyor said that there was a chance the saltwater crocodiles found in Lake Mitchell and Two Mile Creek would eventually make their way into the Barron River.
“Crocs love to move around in the wet.” Mr Brodie stated.
To date, the media has contacted Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science for comment regarding this matter.
Crocodile blood and elephant tusks are among thousands of endangered animal products seized in a month-long operation at UK ports and airports.
Specially-trained UK Border Force officers took part in the international drive against wildlife criminals, who are responsible for a huge increase in the trade in rare animal and plant items.
The operation, led by Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, specifically focussed on the activities of criminal gangs in more than 100 countries, who feed off organised wildlife trafficking.
As part of that effort, Border Force officers intensified their operations at sea ports and airports, making 178 separate seizures of items totalling thousands of products, banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The seizures included elephant tusks and other ivory goods, live corals and reptile skin products and bottles containing crocodile blood.
The reptile blood products are increasingly popular in Thailand and a number of other countries in the Far East, where some believe they are effective in preventing cancer.
Officers also seized a number of rare cactus plants. The cacti astrophytum asterias plants are native to a small number of states in the US and Mexico.
They are classed in the highest category of protected plant species and described as critically imperilled.
But despite this protection, illegal collection continues to threaten the future of this rare cactus.
Other items seized at the UK border included queen conch pearl, among the rarest type of pearl in the world. High-quality specimens can fetch up to £15,000 per carat.
Despite a UK ban on the trade in ivory, Border Force agents still regularly recover ivory products at Britain’s ports and airports.
Elephant tusks, attached to wall mounting chains, were among the ivory products found during this latest operation.
The European Union has come under increasing pressure to follow the example of the UK and US in banning the trade in ivory products.
The international trade in those products was outlawed 30 years ago, but trade in antique ivory and shipments of personal effects for non-commercial purposes are still allowed and this loophole is being exploited by some traders within the EU.
Conservationists have accused the EU of helping fuel the trade, which has seen a rise in elephant poaching in parts of Africa over the past decade, with around 20,000 elephants killed each year for their ivory.
Home Office Minister Chris Philip said the UK was proud to play a part in the latest international efforts to combat wildlife crime.
“The trade in endangered species is driven by organised crime groups and the movement of banned animal products is key to how they operate,” he said.
“This is why Border Force’s specialist officers will continue their vital work at the border to prevent the importation and exportation of endangered animals and plants, as well as working alongside enforcement partners such as the National Wildlife Crime Unit, and police from across the UK to eradicate this ruthless and exploitative trade.”
Codenamed Operation Thunder, the international drive against the trade in endangered animal and plant products led to the worldwide seizure of 1.3 tonnes of ivory, more than one tonne of pangolin scales, 1,400 live turtles and 1,800 reptiles.