A massive crocodile likely had Australian wildlife rangers saying "Crikey!" this week after they discovered the 770-pound creature swimming at a tourist destination.
Wildlife rangers confirmed on Monday that they had trapped the enormous reptile in Australia's Flora River at a remote nature park, just 75 miles southwest of the Outback town, Katherine, according to the Associated Press.
The saltwater crocodile measured in at a whopping 4.4-meters (14.5-feet) and a total of 350-kilograms (770-pounds) — marking the largest croc in years to be trapped in Australia’s Northern Territory, Katherine senior wildlife ranger John Burke told the AP.
Burke said the newly-captured reptile was taken to a crocodile farm, where it is expected to become part of a breeding program.
According to The Katherine Times, the crocodile was spotted after two poor wet seasons in the Katherine region and in a river that has recently experienced low flow.
Burke told the local outlet he believes the crocodiles are migrating because of the rising temperatures, and that the recent capture in the tourist area serves as a "serious reminder you are in croc country."
"Crocodiles can be found in any waterway in the Top End region and you should always be Crocwise," Burke told The Katherine Times. "Never be complacent around the water and only swim in designated swimming areas or pools."
Burke also pointed out to the AP that crocodiles have been increasing in Australia’s Northern Territory since the early 1970s when a federal law was passed, making them a protected species.
"They certainly are increasing [in number], and that’s part of the reason we have the [wildlife] management zones — to reduce the numbers in high-visitation areas so there’s less chance of interaction between salties and people," he told the outlet.
Prior to Monday, the last major crocodile sighting was three years ago in the Katherine River, which is located in the same wildlife management zone, Burke shared with the AP. That reptile measured 4.7-meters (15.5-feet), the outlet reported.
A total of 167 saltwater crocodiles have been captured in the Northern Territory region this year, according to The Katherine Times.
On their website, the Northern Territory promotes crocodile sightings as part of their tourist experience, writing, "The Top End is also known for its rich wetlands, wild rainforests and cascading waterfalls, which are all on show at nearby Kakadu and Litchfield national parks. Birds congregate in their thousands around the Top End’s wetlands, as do other iconic animals like the saltwater crocodile."
"There are plenty of opportunities to encounter crocs — safely — in the Top End: on a river cruise, at dedicated crocodile parks and in the famous Cage of Death in Darwin city," the site adds.
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