for National Geographic News
In the past two weeks alone crocodiles have killed two men and mauled a ten-year-old girl in Australia's Northern Territory. Despite the attacks, the national government yesterday ruled out a proposed plan to allow crocodile hunting in the territory.
The Northern Territory government had put forward the plan in hopes of keeping the reptiles' numbers down. Officials had also hoped to generate revenue from big game hunters for Aborigines, owners of many of the croc habitats in the territory.
Under the crocodile-management plan, hunters would have been allowed to shoot 25 crocodiles longer than 13 feet (about four meters) every year. Exports of trophies, such as skins and heads, would have been allowed.
The 25 animals would have been culled from 600 "problem" crocodiles, which would have been captured annually. The other 575 crocs would have been slaughtered for their skin and meat.
The provincial government argued that hunting would help keep down crocodile numbers and therefore lessen the chances of people being killed or injured.
''Safari hunting of crocodiles is likely to offer considerable financial benefits to landowners that engage in well-managed hunts and increase the incentive for landowners to protect crocodiles and crocodile habitats,'' the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory wrote in its proposal to the federal government.
''The financial returns from the safari hunting of crocodiles will be at least several thousands of [Australian] dollars more per individual than wild harvested crocodiles.''
Hunters applying for safari-hunting permits would have had to be accredited members of shooting organizationsthe goal being to ensure accurate shots and therefore "humane" kills.
"When shot, they must be killed by a head shot using a centrefire rifle,'' the proposal said. This type of rifle is more accurate in long-range shooting.
''A humane kill is one that causes instantaneous loss of consciousness at projectile entry and results in serious damage to bodily functions from which the animal cannot recover," the proposal said. "Shooting must only be carried out in environmental conditions that allow unobstructed views of the animal to give the highest probability of achieving sudden and painless death."
But environment groups said the proposal, if passed, would have led to cruel treatment of crocodiles.
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