Snapped from above: Drones to monitor crocodiles at Australia beaches

  • TECH
  • Friday, 13 Jul 2018

A file photo showing a saltwater crocodile on the bank of the Daintree River, north Queensland, Australia, on October 27, 2016. (Credit Image: © Hal Beral/VW Pics via ZUMA Wire) Photo: Hal Beral/dpa

CANBERRA: An Australian state is trialling the use of drones at popular beaches to keep beachgoers safe from crocodiles. 

The initial plan is for three latest-model drones to spot the deadly predators in beaches between Mission Beach and Port Douglas in north-eastern Queensland, state Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said on July 13. 

Lifeguards are being trained to use the machines and will pass on any crocodile activity in the area to local wildlife officers, with the state government setting aside Aus$105,000 (RM313,923) to cover the project. 

“This funding will not only help [lifesavers] manage beach-goer safety, but the information collected will help our government learn more about crocodile movements and patterns of behaviour when observed near beaches,” local lawmaker Craig Crawford said. 

Queensland's crocodile population is currently not known. Last year, there were four attacks by the animals, including two fatal ones.  

Native saltwater crocodiles are highly mobile and often use oceans to travel long distances between estuaries.  

The state government has said 84 “problem” crocodiles were removed from northern coastal waters in 2017, as part of the three-year-long Queensland crocodile management plan launched last year.  

Enoch said the crocodile monitoring program will “allow us to review our overall approach to crocodile management and how best to communicate about how to stay Crocwise in Croc country”. 

The report said authorities investigated eight unlawful deaths of crocodiles last year, which resulted in three prosecutions.  

Crocodiles are protected animals in Australia, with those larger than five metres in length given an “iconic” status. — dpa

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