As we all know north east Arnhem Land is home to many amazing animals and one of these is the saltwater crocodile (Crocodilus porosus) or Baru in local languages. Baru are seriously dangerous and awesome animals: from a western scientific perspective they are protected, native, and important to our regions ecology; from a Yolngu point of view they are a clan totem, belong to the Yirritja moiety, and are powerful representatives of Yolngu mythology. As a large predator capable of attacking people and pets and as such they are a significant threat.
Dhimurru’s board recognise Baru as an integral part of the landscape and biosphere and contributor to the cultural and environmental values of the Dhimurru IPA requiring active protection and management. Dhimurru works with Yolngu and with relevant authorities to fulfil this function as part of our role in looking after the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) which is recognised as part of Australia’s National Reserve Estate with its’ high conservation and cultural values. Being involved in this space means that Dhimurru has developed its capacity for handling baru and we do this djama (work) when a serious threat has been identified.
Managing baru threats is as much about having capacity to intervene though as it is about making sure that people stay safe and respectful of baru. We all have a responsibility to be careful and not place ourselves in harms way. Whatever actions Dhimurru might take to try and reduce the risk of baru attack we can never guarantee anyone’s safety. Even if we trap and remove a baru from an area today there could easily be another one there to take its place.
Dhimurru works closely with the Parks and Wildlife Commission and their Crocwise team. We have coordinated signage at all of our recreation areas raising baru awareness and we assist with delivering Crocwise presentations in local schools. Dhimurru also invite people to report baru sightings to us. We post reported sightings on our website trying to keep baru awareness in the forefront of everyone’s minds. We advise people not to swim in our waterways, to take care when near the waters edge, and not to clean fish or leave food scraps where they might attract baru activity.
When particularly threatening activity is reported we may undertake a trapping exercise. Decisions to trap are not taken lightly though and are really a very last resort. Trapping is resource intensive, expensive, and actually it’s not a guarantee of safety anyway.
Reports can be provided by phoning our office or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe, be Crocwise and please let us know of any sightings.