In viral social media videos of crocodiles, an expert calls on the Queensland government to impose fines

By Freddy Pawle For Daily Mail Australia 03:16 16 Mar 2023, updated 03:16 16 Mar 2023

Experts warn of crocodile-related social media trend The trend could lead to the deaths of more people and crocodiles

A wildlife expert has urged governments to take action against a recent social media trend of people deliberately entering crocodile habitats.

Mick Bender, a wildlife educator for Wildlife Unleashed, says he wants the government to introduce fines for those who intentionally enter places where crocodiles are common, to discourage people from putting themselves in danger.

The trend has surfaced on social media apps like TikTok and Instagram, with people posting videos of themselves entering crocodile nesting sites and waterways.

His warning comes after 37-year-old Alister MacPhee recorded falling into the water at a remote boat ramp in Cooktown, north Queensland, before being bitten in the leg by a crocodile, which then attacked his dog on February 22 and killed.

A wildlife expert and educator for Wildlife Unleashed, Mick Bender (pictured), has warned that a social media trend of people encroaching on crocodile habitats will lead to more deaths while looking for views

An fishing influencer from far north Queensland, Daniel Colombini, was recently criticized after he was seen jumping off a 10-metre cliff into the crocodile-infested Tully River.

A video showing a man grabbing the tail of a resting crocodile in a small waterway has been viewed over 1.3 million times on TikTok.

Another TikTok video that has a similar number of views shows a man on a boat angering a nearby crocodile with what appears to be a wetsuit.

A video Queensland crab Casey Eames posted to TikTok shows a crocodile just a meter from the back of its metal boat waiting for food to be thrown from the back.

READ :  Lizzie Hartman, known on social media as Elly in Alaska, promotes small businesses and activities in Fairbanks | local news

Mr Eames told the Daily Mail Australia in 2022 that people who feed crocodiles are incredibly dangerous as when they grow to full size they are likely to attack boats and kill people.

“As cool as it would be to feed wild saltwater crocodiles, it’s a silly thing to do because when they grow up they’re going to flip a boat and kill someone,” he said.

Mr Bender has urged the Queensland Government to step in and deter people with fines if they intentionally ignore safety warnings and enter crocodile habitats (stock image shown).

Speaking about the February attack near Cooktown, Mr Bender told 4BC on Thursday that the video was “so devastating to watch”.

“You can see what a bad example this guy set by doing the wrong thing down by the boat ramp, getting attacked and grabbing his dog,” said Mr. Bender.

‚ÄúThis video is going viral, people are like, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of views to be won,’ so people are going to crocodile country and taking risks.

“Of course it would be great for everyone to boycott them and just not watch these videos, but that’s not how social media works.

“You can see what’s going to happen. We want things to be done before things go wrong.

“If things continue as they are, people will die and more crocodiles will die because of it.”

He has called on the Queensland government to impose penalties on those who consistently enter crocodile areas, ignore warning signs and safety rules and are attacked as a result.

READ :  Social media engagement style may be linked to perceived social connectedness - new research

“One would think that fear of being attacked by a crocodile would be enough to protect the people of crocodile country, but that’s just not the case,” he said.

“By creating that kind of secondary fear of punishment, specifically the fact that you might get caught, but you might not… but get a fine instead.”

Just over a week before Mr MacPhee and his dog were attacked, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science announced it had removed a giant crocodile from waterways near Mackay.

“The removal of a 12-foot (3.8 m) Estuary Crocodile from a stream near Mackay is a timely reminder to the local community to always be Crocwise near the region’s waters,” the department said in a statement.

Alister MacPhee, 37, recorded himself in February walking into the water at a remote boat ramp in Cooktown, north Queensland, and was bitten by a crocodile, which then killed his dog

The Queensland government imposes fines related to crocodiles, but not for intentional habitat entry.

Feeding crocodiles carries a maximum fine of $5,222, while tampering with a crocodile trap could cost more than $15,000.

The Department for Environment and Science warns: “Just because you can’t see a crocodile doesn’t mean there isn’t one nearby.”

They advise people to stay at least five meters from the water in crocodile habitats, to be careful at dusk, dawn and at night, and to keep pets away from the water.