Crocodile population needs to be controlled after 12-year-old girl dies in northern Australia

Wellington, New Zealand — Crocodile numbers in Australia’s Northern Territory must be maintained or reduced and there cannot be more crocodiles than human beings, declared the chief minister of the region after a 12-year-old girl died while swimming.

The crocodile population has skyrocketed across northern Australia since the crocodile was made a protected species by law in the 1970s. The number of specimens went from 3,000 at the time when hunting was banned to about 100,000 today.The Northern Territory has just over 250,000 inhabitants.

The girl’s death came weeks after the territory approved a 10-year crocodile management plan that allows for targeted culling of crocodiles at popular swimming spots.although it does not signal a return to mass culls. Crocodiles are considered a threat in much of the Northern Territory’s waters, but tourism and crocodile farms are important economic drivers.

“We cannot allow the crocodile population to outnumber the human population in the Northern Territory,” Chief Minister Eva Lawler said on Thursday, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We need to get our crocodile numbers under control.”

In this week’s deadly attack, The girl disappeared while swimming in a stream near the indigenous community of Palumpasouthwest of the territory’s capital Darwin. After an exhaustive search, her remains were located in the river system where she disappeared and her injuries confirmed a crocodile attack.

The Northern Territory recorded 15 deaths from crocodile attacks between 2005 and 2014 and another two in 2018.Because the saltwater crocodile can live up to 70 years and grow throughout its life—reaching up to 23 feet in length—the proportion of super-sized crocodiles is also on the rise.

Lawler, who called the girl’s death “heartbreaking,” said that A$500,000 ($337,000) has been allocated from the territory’s budget for crocodile management next year..