Northern Territory rangers and traditional owners are calling for greater safety measures after a woman shooed away a saltie with her thong in Kakadu National Park last month.
The woman and her small dog had a dangerous confrontation with the nearly 4m predator while standing at the water’s edge on the East Alligator River at Cahill’s Crossing – a famous feeding ground for crocodiles.
The croc stalked them from the shallows but the woman managed to spook it away by clapping a thong against her hand.
Dozens of crocodiles congregate daily at Cahill’s Crossing at the end of each dry season to feast on fish, a spectacle that attracts big crowds.
Kakadu crocodile management supervisor Gary Lindner says rangers and Aboriginal elders are getting frustrated with the foolhardy behaviour of tourists and locals.
“(We’re) still reminding people, particularly with fisherman or people that are intoxicated,” he told ABC Radio.
“The lure of catching a barramundi overrides the safety mechanism in the brain.”
They’re worried a tragedy could be days away and want another crocodile viewing platform to deter visitors from venturing close to the water during busy times.
Crocodile expert Dr Adam Britton, a researcher at Charles Darwin University, told AAP alcohol is frequently involved when attacks occur.
“People up here love to have a drink, we all do. It’s hot, and humid and nothing beats a nice cold beer,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t get out on the boat and start cracking a few tinnies. But you need to keep a bit of common sense about you.”
Dr Britton says nothing will stop some people from wading into the water and putting their lives at risk.
“There’s always going to be someone doing something silly, it’s just human nature to push the envelope,” he said.
“But (another platform) will reduce the risk for other people when they have more safe options.”
There’s between 80,000 and 100,000 crocodiles in the Top End, and almost 130 crocodiles were counted in the 6km upstream stretch near Cahill’s Crossing during a recent survey.