A kid’s fascination.
I won’t lie. The very first time I set eyes upon a ‘dragon’ was at a zoo in Indonesia. That beast was a Komodo Dragon, the largest of the lizards, still inhabiting a very small part of this world. I was absolutely fascinated by the size, and the majestic way it moved. Their population numbers are considered to be vulnerable. Komodo Dragons are only found in the islands of the Indonesian Archipellago. These lizards can attain a length of 3 metres and weigh up to 100kg. A monster of a lizard whose looks remind me of a long extinct dinosaur. Have a close look at the shape of that large head: is that scary or not?
The Komodo Dragons’ natural habitat is being encroached by the ever expanding size of villages. And with that, the increasing incidence of contact with humans will impact on their natural habits for hunting. Foraging for food within the village for easy pickings is fraught with new problems. Humans, fortunately, are not part of the Dragon’s natural diet, but they will eat all kinds of other meat, from deer, pigs and even their own kind. Unlike… saltwater crocodiles.
Most large crocodiles will happily prey upon careless humans, and are even happier to eat us!
Really, yes. BUT…
Saltwater crocodiles…a menace?
In Australia, our own saltwater crocodile conjures images of a fearsome predator that stalks the shores of rivers and creeks in the north of our continent, from Western Australia, through the Northern Territory and Far North, and North Queensland. And not without reason…
Saltwater crocodiles were hunted and exploited for their skins. However, the uncontrolled commercial harvesting of crocodiles became unsustainable by the late sixties. Population numbers had been reduced to levels which made commercial harvesting un-viable. Protection measures and legislation introduced in the Northern Territory and Queensland in the early to mid seventies saw their numbers increase steadily from the late 1970’s.
Now in 2017, it is widely recognised that the numbers of crocodiles found in close proximity to populated areas have become an unacceptable problem. Particularly, in the tropical areas of Australia where population growth towards the coast has been popular, the encounter with a wandering crocodile increases.
In Townsville, sightings of saltwater crocodiles are not uncommon, and often within zones where people’s recreational activities are played out. Crocodiles are extremely territorial, and territorial disputes can result in the loser having to find new digs.
Up here in North Queenland, it is common knowledge that swimming in creeks, rivermouths, or near rivermouths is foolish. Salties, as they are “affectionately” known have also travelled far into the fresh water reaches of some large river systems. There are photos of 4 metre saltwater crocodiles sunning on a muddy river bank of the Burdekin, 200 kilometre upstream from the sea.
A reptile fit for a horror story…
Crocs have been around since Dinosaurs. Consequently, their history and lore sits not far from our imagination to find horror. Inevitably, their reputation as fearsome, deadly stalkers beneath the water surface is the same in remote Indigenous communities as ours in the coastal, beach towns in the North.
The Saltwater Crocodile only plays a very small part in STEALTH…which part? That’s up to you, the reader to find out.