Territorial mother crocs don't take kindly to the removal of their offspring. It's only an experienced team effort that keeps everyone safe from the snapping jaws. Each nest raid involves an escape plan, and simple is often best. As Jason Lever told his father: "I don't have to outrun the croc. I just have to outrun you."
Yet each year Koorana farmhands manage to move all of their croc eggs to the safety of an incubator. With luck, more than 80 percent of the eggs will hatch.
Koorana Crocodile Farm is one of six croc farms in Queensland, Australia.
Farming began in the territory in 1969 with an aim to conserve young saltwater crocodiles and provide employment for the local Aboriginal community.
Other farms were soon established as tourist attractions, but it was not until the 1980s that commercial crocodile farming took off. Today, farms like Koorana serve as popular tourist attractions, seeking to educate the public about crocodiles and their habitat.
Croc farmers like John Lever say they play a larger role in croc conservation, noting that each farm-raised croc hopefully means one less is taken from the wild.
Unregulated hunting between 1945 and 1970 led to a steep population decline of saltwater crocs throughout their range. Today, there are some 100,000 to 150,000 wild crocs found in Australia's three northern provinces and territories: Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.
Australian laws passed in the early 1970s have helped protect the overhunted saltwater crocodile. But in other nations, hunting and habitat loss remain major threats.
"It's important to know this plays a part in conservation," John Lever told Ultimate Explorer. Pointing to a nearby croc, Lever said: "This crocodile's never been in the wild. It's born on the place as an egg and then hatched out and then grown for years to develop the [skin]. So this is not a wild animal, even though people see them as wild animals. This is a production, just the same as any other farm production. It's just that it happens to be a crocodile."
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