The QWildlife app – a Christmas gift in croc country
Locals and visitors to North Queensland are playing a vital role in helping to keep people save in ‘Croc country’ thanks to a new wildlife app that records real-time information on recent crocodile sightings.
Director Northern Wildlife Operations Lindsay Delzoppo said the Department of Environment and Science (DES) received 1146 estuarine crocodile sighting reports in 2021 – up from 616 in 2020.
“This is the highest number of reports since results were first collected in 2009,” Mr Delzoppo said.
“The increase in the number of sighting reports received is partly due to the remarkable uptake of the QWildlife app, launched in late November 2020.
“The QWildlife app has been highly popular in ‘croc country’, with many people also submitting photos or videos with their reports when using the app on their smart phones or tablets.
“DES would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a crocodile sighting report, as these provide wildlife officers helpful information about the size, location and behaviour of the crocodiles.
“The QWildlife app also allows people living in or visiting croc country to find out where there have been sightings and the locations where any ‘problem crocodiles’ have been declared within the previous 30 days.
“However, people must appreciate that the absence of a crocodile sighting report in an area shown on the QWildlife interactive map does not mean it is free of crocodiles.
“Crocodiles are highly mobile and may turn up in any waterway in croc country at any time, even if they haven’t been seen there before.
“I would like to note that the high number of sighting reports in 2021 does not necessarily mean an increase in crocodile numbers.
“This is because more than one person could report the same crocodile, and it is now much easier for the public to report sightings via the QWildlife app.
“The growth in residential development in known crocodile habitat also means there are more people to make these reports.”
Mr Delzoppo said thousands of Queenslanders and interstate visitors are expected to spend the Christmas holidays season near waterways in croc country.
“Remember, you are responsible for your own safety in croc country, which begins at the Boyne River south of Gladstone, and extends up the east coast and across far north Queensland,” he said.
“I encourage people who are travelling to croc country over the Christmas holidays to download the QWildlife app in advance and familiarise yourself with it.
“Wildlife officers investigate every sighting report received and if a crocodile poses a threat to public safety, it is targeted for removal from the wild.”
The QWildlife app (available for iPhones and Android devices) can be downloaded at https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/living-with/crocodiles/report-crocodile. The app can also be accessed from the DES website athttps://www.des.qld.gov.au/.
Members of the public can report crocodile sightings (and should do so as soon as possible) by entering the details to the QWildlife app or by calling 1300 130 372.
People in croc country are reminded to always be Crocwise. In particular:
Expect crocodiles in ALL central, north and far-north Queensland waterways even if there is no warning sign
Obey all warning signs – they are there to keep you safe
Be aware crocs also swim in the ocean and be extra cautious around water at night
Stay well away from croc traps – that includes when fishing and boating
The smaller the vessel the greater the risk, so avoid using canoes and kayaks
Stand back from the water’s edge when fishing and don’t wade in to retrieve a lure
Camp at least 50 metres from the edge of the water
Never leave food, fish scraps or bait near the water’s edge, at camp sites or at boat ramps
Never provoke, harass or feed crocs
Always supervise children near the water and keep pets on a lead.
Information on crocodiles in Queensland and how DES manages them is available at https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/living-with/crocodiles