Home Australia Mother of girl killed by crocodile in NT speaks out against culling the animals

Mother of girl killed by crocodile in NT speaks out against culling the animals

0 comment
Charlene O'Sullivan's daughter Briony killed by crocodile at NT waterhole

Charlene O’Sullivan’s daughter Briony killed by crocodile at NT waterhole

A mother whose young daughter was killed by a crocodile while swimming with friends has urged the Northern Territory government not to expand animal culling.

Briony Goodsell, 11, was cooling off in a stream at Lambells Lagoon near Humpty Doo, south-east of Darwin, with her sister and two friends on a hot Sunday afternoon in March 2009 when she jumped into the water and couldn’t come to the surface.

A coroner found the girl had been abducted by a 3.2-metre saltwater crocodile, and her mother, Charlene O’Sullivan, said this week, despite her anguish still “fresh” more than a decade later, that educational programs were the best way to keep people safe.

Briony’s death sparked a program by Northern Territory authorities to eliminate all crocodiles within a 50 kilometer radius of Darwin, culling aggressive animals and keeping others away.

The family had previously called for all crocodiles within a 100km radius of Darwin to be culled, but Mrs O’Sullivan, who started her own crocodile farm to sell handbags and jewellery, said she now believes safety education , relocation of problem crocodiles and eggs Collection is more effective.

“It’s still very traumatic and it’s still very ingrained in our hearts,” O’Sullivan told the ABC.

“(But the sacrifice) will give a false sense of security… The most important thing has always been education.”

Briony (pictured) had been swimming with her sister and two friends when she was unable to surface.

Briony (pictured) had been swimming with her sister and two friends when she was unable to surface.

The crocodile responsible for the attack was never located but, in his findings, coroner Greg Cavanagh said he was confident about the cause of death.

The area where the children had been swimming, Black Jungle Swamp, was known to have crocodiles and the other children had seen a large bubble immediately after Briony jumped into the water, followed by the flash of a crocodile story.

The children should not have been swimming there but, as was said in the news at the time, “boys will be boys” and it was a “tragic misadventure.”

Several police officers who also had young children risked their own lives by wading chest-deep in the creek in the hours after Briony disappeared and had to be dragged out by other officers hours later.

His partial remains were found downstream the next day.

Although the inquiry was presented with evidence that crocodile numbers had increased by up to 150,000 in the Northern Territory in the years before the attack, Cavanagh concluded that culling would not work and would lead to complacency.

Cavanagh said that as part of the Top End community, residents must recognize that dangerous, man-eating animals lived among humans.

“A balance must be struck between the ethical and sustainable treatment of crocodiles and the safety of the public,” he said.

“The current crocodile management plan prepared and approved by the Northern Territory government promises the community that there will be increased attention and efforts regarding public safety.”

“I recommend that the greatest public security measures detailed… be provided and applied,” he said in his conclusions.

There are around half a million crocodiles in the NT, a huge increase in numbers in recent decades, but attacks have not increased.

There are around half a million crocodiles in the NT, a huge increase in numbers in recent decades, but attacks have not increased.

Scientists told ABC this week that despite an increase in crocodile numbers since hunting them was banned in the 1970s, the number of attacks has not increased.

Grahame Webb, outgoing chair of the Crocodile Specialist Group, said the NT Government’s current program to remove aggressive crocodiles was effective.

He said the only way to make it 100 percent safe was to completely eradicate the crocodiles.

But he added that the Northern Territory, which has the largest crocodile population in the world, should ensure resources are concentrated on tourist sites where people are told they can swim to ensure they are crocodile-free.

The Northern Territory’s chief minister has signaled she is uncomfortable with the number of saltwater crocodiles in the territory, as her government released a draft plan to manage crocodiles over the next 10 years in February.

Chief Minister Eva Lawler said the consultation document for the Government’s next saltwater crocodile management plan would “allow the public to have a say on crocodiles, including culling”.


Some of the ways to stay safe in areas that may have saltwater crocodiles include:

• Never swim in water where crocodiles may live, even if there are no warning signs. Swim only in designated safe swimming areas.

• Obey all crocodile warning signs – they are there for your safety and security.

• Always be on the lookout for crocodiles. They will see you before you see them.

• Never provoke, harass or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.

• Never feed crocodiles: it is illegal and dangerous.

• Be especially aware of water at night and during the breeding season, September through April.

• Avoid going near the water’s edge and do not paddle or wade at the water’s edge.

• Stay away from crocodile skid marks. Crocodiles can be close and approach people and boats.

• The smaller the boat, the greater the risk.

• Always stay at least five meters from the water’s edge when fishing.

• Be especially vigilant when launching or recovering your boat in saltwater crocodile habitat.

• Do not lean over the edge of a boat or stand on logs sticking out of the water.

• Never hang your arms or legs over the side of a boat. If you fall off a boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible.

• Camp at least 2 meters above the water mark and at least 50 meters from the water’s edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic livestock drink.

• Avoid returning regularly to the same spot at the water’s edge to fill your bucket.

• Dispose of food scraps, fish offal and other waste properly and away from your campsite.

• Never leave food scraps, fish frames or bait at your campsite. Always check that previous campers have not left them behind.

• Never prepare food, wash dishes, or do any other activity near the water’s edge or adjacent sloping banks. Instead, fill your bucket and move away from the water’s edge before beginning any task.

Source: NT Government.

You may also like