Interactive: How likely is a crocodile attack in Australia?

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Fears over crocodile attacks have been reignited following the death of a man who was taken by a 4.7 metre long crocodile in Kakadu National Park. But how common are such attacks and who is most at risk?

Human remains were recovered Sunday in the hunt for a man snatched by a crocodile in front of terrified relatives on a boat trip in northern Australia.

The 62-year-old man was taken from his boat on the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park late Saturday (June 7) afternoon as his wife, son and daughter-in-law looked on.

The attack was carried out by a saltwater crocodile, the species behind the majority of attacks and all fatalities in Australia. Historical data shows only 11 attacks by freshwater crocodiles in Australia, all of which were non-fatal.

How many attacks have been recorded in Australia?

The weekend death of a 62-year-old man in Kakadu National Park brings this year's total recorded deaths as a result of a crocodile attack to two.

An additional non-fatal attack has also been recorded.

In 1999, three attacks were recorded though the gender of one victim was listed as unknown. In the above graphic, it is recorded as male. 

 

Who is more likely to be attacked

Saltwater crocodile habitats are restricted to waterways in northern Australia. Historical data shows men are far more likely to be the victim a crocodile attack in Australia, with many attacks the result of swimming, hunting or fishing.

People aged between 16 and 35 years are most likely to be victims of crocodile attacks, based on historical data.

Where do these attacks occur?

Crocodile attacks occur in the environoments in the northern parts of Australia.

Crocodiles number have increased steadily since the introduction of protection laws in 1971, with government estimates putting the crocodile population at 75,000-100,000.

Both fatal attacks recorded this year occured in Kakadu National Park.

The location of all recorded crocodile attacks in Australia. Image: CrocBITE 2014.

Why do crocodiles attack?

According to Queensland-based IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, only eight species of crocodiles are known to carry out unprovoked attacks on humans.

The site lists a number of common reasons for attacks, including:

  • Hunting for food
  • Defence of territory
  • Defence of nest or young
  • Mistaken identity

The site also carries additional data on attacks worldwide.

Near misses

Outback blog Outback Australia Travel Guide carries some intersting tales collected from travellers who have recorded near misses with crocodiles.

One entry reads about a near attack near the Pentecost River in the Kimberley in 2005.

"He took one bite of the tent and then walked slowly backwards turning his head from left to right. The tent ripped opened and he took off with bedding from the tent. I flattened the car battery by hooking up a handheld spot light to the cigarette lighter and turning the ignition on full. The battery was flattened within minutes. We were stranded there for another two nights before we were rescued. My friend walked 12 kilometres and left a note on the Gibb River Road asking to be rescued."

Non-fatal attacks have also resulted in signficant injuries, as outlined in the World Journal of Surgery in 2009.

Source: World News Australia

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