Rangers Shoot Dead 14-Foot Crocodile After Killing Girl

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Rangers in Australia shot dead a 14-foot saltwater crocodile after it fatally attacked a 12-year-old girl who was swimming with her family.

Rangers in northern Australia have fatally shot a 4.2-meter (14-foot) crocodile following its attack on a 12-year-old girl who was swimming with her family last week, police confirmed on Wednesday.

The tragic incident marks the first fatal crocodile attack in the Northern Territory since 2018, when an Indigenous woman lost her life while gathering mussels in a river. The attack has reignited discussions on managing the crocodile population in the Northern Territory, where the protected species increasingly intersects with human communities.

Wildlife rangers had been trying to capture or kill the crocodile since the girl was attacked near Palumpa, an Outback Indigenous community, at Mango Creek last week.

They euthanized the crocodile on Sunday with permission from the region’s traditional landowners. Saltwater crocodiles hold significant cultural significance as totems for many Indigenous Australians.

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

"The events of last week have had a profound impact on the family, and local police continue to provide support to all affected," stated senior Sgt. Erica Gibson in a police release.

Crocodile scientist Grahame Webb, based in the Northern Territory, noted that a reptile of this size would likely be a male and at least 30 years old. These crocodiles continue to grow throughout their lifespan, which can extend up to 70 years.

The girl's tragic death occurred shortly after the Northern Territory approved a 10-year plan to manage crocodile numbers, increasing culling efforts near human habitats from 300 to 1,200 annually.

Following this recent fatality, the Northern Territory government emphasized the need to prevent crocodiles from outnumbering humans.

Although the Northern Territory spans an area similar to France and Spain combined, it is home to just 250,000 people. Estimates suggest there are approximately 100,000 crocodiles in the region. Prior to federal legislation outlawing their hunting in 1971, the crocodile population was as low as 3,000.

Webb highlighted that crocodile populations in the territory have mostly stabilized in recent years through natural processes, such as crocodiles preying on each other for food and territory. "The crocs have been controlling their own population. It’s not really people that have been controlling them," Webb explained.