Public question whether croc removed from Mowbray is ‘Mo’
Mowbray River crocodile
After a 4.3m crocodile was taken out of the Mowbray River on the weekend, readers are asking whether the crocodile was Mo, the ‘resident crocodile’ that lives under the Mowbray Bridge, and is well known to locals.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Science, the crocodile was captured one kilometre upstream from the Mowbray Bridge, following a recent sighting reported on the QWildlife Crocwatch app.
After assessing the site, “wildlife officers observed the crocodile displaying assertive behaviour, and the animal was unconcerned by the presence of the wildlife officers,” a DES statement said.
With the capture location being so close to the Mowbray Bridge, and the fact that it's a large crocodile, some readers are fearful that the captured croc is in fact, Mo.
“The animal that was removed from the upper Mowbray River was behaving differently to a crocodile that is commonly seen at the mouth of the Mowbray River. Crocodiles are highly mobile animals and can travel vast distances to search for new territory. It is not unusual to have multiple crocodiles in river systems,” said a DES spokesperson.
Crocodile expert David White runs Solar Whisper Wildlife Tours – and after running boat tours on the Daintree River for many years, he knows crocodile behaviour intimately. Newsport asked White about the likelihood of there being two big male crocodiles in the Mowbray as we come into the breeding season, especially just one kilometre from where Mo is commonly seen near the bridge.
“While they can move around at this time of year, the Mowbray is not a big system so I'd say it’s unlikely that there’s two big crocs in there – but it’s not impossible. Around October/November is the time of year when they move around looking for new territory.”
White wasn’t surprised to hear that the crocodile was acting territorial.
“Now is the time of year when they show aggression, so obviously the animal is going to be aggressive if it’s approached,” he said.
Rebecca Lynch is a Wildlife Expert at Port Douglas’ Wildlife Habitat, who also happens to live in Mowbray.
“Large male crocodiles are territorial but can live somewhat close to one another with an understanding of hierarchy. They are also cognitive thinkers and know whether it's worth putting themselves in danger, for example, by approaching another large male,” Lynch said.
The wildlife handler, who is looking after the new crocodiles at the Wildlife Habitat, also believes that it’s going to be virtually impossible to determine whether the captured croc is Mo.
“Unless you’re seeing the same animals on a regular basis, it’s impossible to know whether it’s the same individual. They do come and go,” she said.
Both White and Lynch told Newsport it is their personal opinion that they’d rather the animal be left alone. White also questioned the point of trapping an animal so close to the new crocodile viewing platform on the Mowbray Bridge.
“It seems ridiculous that they build a crocodile viewing platform and then remove a crocodile a stone’s throw upstream.”
DES has strict protocols to follow when a crocodile becomes a problem; however, the point White raises has been echoed by readers.
“Oh no, was this the big guy that sits on the bank? What did they build the lookout for?” asked one reader.
The Mowbray pedestrian bridge has only recently reopened to the public as part of the Wangetti Trail. The project includes a crocodile viewing platform, which is already popular with the public. According to Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr, there was no correspondence between DES and Council about the trap’s proximity to the viewing platform.
“While Council works closely with the department, it is not the local government’s place to interfere with the department when they are fulfilling their responsibilities,” Mayor Kerr said.
The Mayor also highlighted that Mo isn’t the only crocodile to be viewed from the platform.
“While it would be disappointing if Mo decided to leave his home and head upstream, human life is the priority in these matters – and if there were even the slightest risk that anyone could be taken, then the correct action has been applied. Crocodiles are very territorial and no doubt another large bull would move into the location where the viewing platform is if this is the case.”
DES consistently monitors crocodile populations – and asks anyone who sees a croc to let the department know.
“People are encouraged to report all crocodile sightings to the department through the QWildlife app or by calling 1300 130 372. Wildlife officers investigate every report,” said a spokesperson for DES.
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