Wildlife expert calls for action on croc-related social media trend

Wildlife expert’s urgent warning against social media trend of people taunting crocodiles and swimming in places they live: ‘More people will die’

  • Experts warn of crocodile-related social media trend  
  • The trend could lead to the deaths of more people and crocs 

A wildlife expert has urged governments to take action over a recent social media trend of people purposely placing themselves in crocodile habitats. 

Mick Bender, a wildlife educator for Wildlife Unleashed, says he wants the government to introduce fines for those people who purposely enter places where crocodiles are common to deter people from placing themselves in harm’s way.

The trend has emerged on social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram, with people posting videos of themselves entering crocodile nesting spots and waterways.

His warning comes after Alister MacPhee, 37, recorded himself walking into the water at a remote boat ramp in Cooktown, north Queensland before he was bitten on the leg by a crocodile which then attacked and killed his dog on February 22.

A wildlife expert and educator for Wildlife Unleashed, Mick Bender (pictured), has warned that a social media trend of people entering crocodile habitats will lead to more deaths in the search for views

A fishing influencer from far-north Queensland, Daniel Colombini, was recently criticised after he was seen jumping off of a 10metre cliff into the croc-infested Tully River.

One video shows a man grabbing the tail of a resting crocodile in a small waterway and has been viewed over 1.3million times on TikTok.  

Another TikTok video that has a similar amount of views shows a man on a boat antagonising a nearby croc with what seems to be a piece of wetsuit. 

A video posted to TikTok by Queensland crabber, Casey Eames, shows a crocodile just a metre away from the back of his metal dinghy waiting for food to be thrown off of the back.

Mr Eames told Daily Mail Australia in 2022 that people feeding crocodiles was incredibly dangerous as when they grow to full size, they are likely to attack boats and kill people.

‘As cool as it would be to feed wild saltwater crocodiles it is a dumb thing to do because when they’re fully grown they will flip a boat and kill someone,’ he said. 

Mr Bender has urged the Queensland Government to step in and deter people with fines if they purposely ignore safety warnings and enter crocodile habitats (stock image pictured)

Speaking on the February attack near Cooktown, Mr Bender told 4BC on Thursday that the video was ‘so devastating to see’.

‘You can see what a bad example this bloke has set by going down and doing the wrong thing down at the boat ramp, getting attacked and his dog getting grabbed,’ Mr Bender said.

‘That video going viral, people think ‘oh there’s a lot of views to gain out of this’ so people are going into crocodile country and taking risks. 

‘Obviously it would be great for everyone to boycott them and just not watch those videos but that’s not how social media works. 

‘You can see what’s going to happen. We want something done before something goes wrong.

‘If things keep going the way they’re going then people will die and more crocodiles will die because of it.’

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He has urged the Queensland Government to enforce penalties on those who are continuously entering crocodile territory, ignoring warning signs and safety rules and getting attacked because of it.

‘You’d think that the fear of getting attacked by a crocodile would be enough to keep people safe in crocodile country but it just doesn’t,’ he said.

‘By creating that sort of secondary fear of a penalty especially the fact that, yeah, you might get grabbed but you also might not… but you might get a fine instead.’ 

Just over a week before Mr MacPhee and his dog were attacked, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science announced it had removed a massive crocodile from waterways near Mackay.

‘The removal of a 3.8m estuarine crocodile from a creek near Mackay is a timely reminder for the local community to always be Crocwise around the region’s water bodies,’ a statement from the department reads.

Alister MacPhee, 37, recorded himself in February walking into the water at a remote boat ramp in Cooktown, north Queensland and being bitten by a croc which then killed his dog

The Queensland Government does issue crocodile-related fines, but not for purposely entering habitat areas.

Feeding crocodiles comes with a maximum penalty of $5,222 while interfering with a crocodile trap could cost more then $15,000.

The Department of Environment and Science warns that: ‘Just because you can’t see a crocodile, it doesn’t mean there is not one close by.’

They advise people to stay at least five metres away from the water’s edge in crocodile habitats, being cautious during dusk, dawn and night, and keep pets away from the water.

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