Rangers Euthanize Crocodile After Fatal Attack on 12-Year-Old Girl

Authorities have euthanized a 14-foot crocodile in the Northern Territory after it killed a 12-year-old girl while she was swimming with her family last week, police reported on Wednesday.

This tragic incident marks the first fatal crocodile attack in the region since 2018, when an Indigenous woman lost her life while gathering mussels in a river. The attack has reignited discussions about the need for increased efforts to manage the crocodile population in the Northern Territory, where these protected species have increasingly encroached on human settlements.

Wildlife rangers had been actively trying to capture or eliminate the crocodile since the girl’s attack last week in Mango Creek, near Palumpa, an Outback Indigenous community in the Northern Territory.

The animal was shot and killed on Sunday after securing permission from the region’s traditional landowners, who consider saltwater crocodiles a totemic species.

Police have confirmed through analysis that the crocodile killed was the one responsible for the girl’s death.

“The events of last week have deeply affected the family, and local police continue to provide support to all those impacted,” stated Senior Sergeant Erica Gibson in a police statement.

Northern Territory-based crocodile scientist Grahame Webb indicated that the size of the slain reptile suggests it was a male, at least 30 years old. These animals continue to grow throughout their lifespan and can live up to 70 years.

The girl’s death comes shortly after the Northern Territory approved a 10-year plan aimed at managing crocodile numbers, increasing the annual culling rate near human habitats from 300 to 1,200.

Following the recent fatality, emphasized that allowing crocodiles to outnumber humans is unacceptable.

The Northern Territory covers a land area roughly the size of France and Spain combined, but has a population of only 250,000. Estimates place the crocodile population at 100,000. Before federal legislation outlawed crocodile hunting in 1971, the crocodile population had dwindled to as low as 3,000.

Webb explained that the territory’s crocodile population has largely stabilized in recent years due to interspecies competition for food and territory. “They eat each other. The crocs have been controlling their own population. It’s not really people that have been controlling them,” Webb remarked.