Crocodile egg harvesting with Outback Wrangler Matt Wright.
With ten years of crocodile egg collecting in the Northern Territory under his belt, Matt Wright has plenty of stories of hairy and at-times life-threatening situations. He’s also played a part in some innovations that dramatically increase the life expectancy of crocodile egg ‘collectors’. Straight from the pages Outback Wrangler, Wright outlines three crocodile egg-harvesting techniques that most people would sooner leave to the professionals.
Floating mat is a term collectors use to describe the native grass that grows at the edges of the big rivers and lakes of the Top End. The grass spreads out from the bank and across the water and provides the perfect conditions for crocs to hunt. The floating mat is thick enough to support the weight of an animal, but not so thick as to prevent a croc from bursting through and dragging unsuspecting prey to the murky bottom. For this reason, floating mat is one of the preferred places for crocs to build nests and one of the most dangerous places for humans to venture.
Slinging a collector onto a nest is all about reducing the time a collector is exposed to danger. In the early 1980s, when people began collecting crocodile eggs, they’d use a chopper to spot a nest and drop collectors as close as possible. This was often kilometres away, requiring the collectors to walk into the swamps with only a rod and crate to keep them safe. It was very dangerous. They were exposed to heat exhaustion, deadly snakes and large male crocodiles patrolling the swamps.
There had been a string of near misses and close calls. A feeling of doubt started to creep into the operation. If things didn’t change, someone was going to get killed. The Professor challenged us to come up with safer methods of collecting croc eggs. We got together and came up with the idea of a ring.
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