Our wildlife enterprise activities are sustainable commercial developments involving renewable resources with economic and socio-cultural benefits for Bawinanga Rangers, landowners and djungkay. Our current enterprise activities are focussed on our Crocodile Hatchery Program, which complies with both cultural laws and the NT Government’s crocodile management program.
Saltwater crocodiles are a culturally significant species to some landowners and clans in our region. Non-Indigenous commercial hunters are said to have hunted the animals almost to extinction in the Northern Territory by the late 1960s, and a ban on the hunting of crocodiles was legislated in 1971.
Crocodile Hatchery Program
Saltwater crocodiles nest primarily during the wet season, which is usually from November to May. The female lays an average of 50 eggs, which hatch from 75 days onwards. In the wild, only about ¼ of a clutch of eggs tends to hatch.
Bawinanga Rangers have been harvesting crocodile eggs from our river systems since 1990. Our permit from the Northern Land Council allows us to harvest up to 2300 eggs per year from specified zones within the Djelk IPA. The Bawinanga women ranger team has responsibility for our Crocodile Hatchery Program. The Rangers artificially incubate the harvested eggs, caring for them until they hatch. A proportion of the young crocodile hatchlings are sold to our commercial clients and the remainder are kept to grow out over 9–12 months. We sell the juvenile crocodiles to clients for resale to domestic and international clients.
We have a long-standing partnership and history of knowledge exchange with Wildlife Harvesting NT (Grahame and Giovanna Webb), and we sell crocodile hatchlings to Crocodylus Park, and Crocosaurus Cove (Wildlife Management International: Mick Burns and Craig Moore).
Problem crocodile removal
Under our Problem Crocodile Permit we can remove 20 saltwater crocodiles per year at the request of landowners in the Djelk IPA to make their country safer. We are permitted to process the problem crocodiles’ skins and skulls for commercial sale. All profits are reinvested in the management program.