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Boy, 9, attacked by crocodile while swimming in Australian national park

Boy suffered ‘puncture wounds’ after he was bitten while swimming in popular national park

Athena Stavrou
Monday 15 January 2024 16:01 GMT
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The boy was taken to the Jabiru Community Health Centre before he was later airlifted to hospital 150 miles away
The boy was taken to the Jabiru Community Health Centre before he was later airlifted to hospital 150 miles away (Getty Images)

A nine-year-old boy was left fighting for life after being attacked by a crocodile while swimming in Australia.

The boy was airlifted to hospital from Kakadu National Park, in Australia’s Northern Territory, after being attacked while swimming on Saturday.

Craig Garraway, of St John Ambulance, said the boy had suffered “a number of puncture wounds” from a crocodile.

The boy was taken to the Jabiru Community Health Centre before he was airlifted 150 miles to the Royal Darwin Hospital in a critical but stable condition.

His current condition is unknown, but Mr Garraway told local media the boy appeared to be okay, adding: “Probably a lucky escape I would suggest.”

The Northern Territory, where Kakadu National Park is located, has the densest crocodile population in Australia (TOURISM AUSTRALIA)

The attack took place near the historic site Munmalary Homestead, which sits on the floodplains between the South Alligator and East Alligator Rivers.

The park is one of Australia’s largest national parks, covering 20,000 square metres and is home to some 2,000 plant species and wildlife. It was established in 1979 and welcomes over 250,000 visitors a year.

It is renowned for having a massive crocodile population of around 10,000 creatures and swimming is forbidden in many of the park’s infested waters. A Parks Australia spokesperson told local media that the incident occurred within an area that “is not accessible to the general public”.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory also warned that park rangers had caught more than 50 crocodiles in recent years near popular swimming spots.

“The arrival of the monsoon season brings a wave of excitement as billabongs, rivers and road culverts fill up once again,” it said in a social media post.

“This abundance of water makes it easy for saltwater crocodiles to move around, with some travelling up to 300 km in search of food or a mate. Wildlife rangers have caught over 50 saltwater crocodiles in local road culverts, locations where people previously enjoyed a dip with friends. Saltwater crocodiles are dangerous, stay safe this wet season.

“Stay at least 5 metres back from the water’s edge at all times and keep an eye on your mates.”

Fatal crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory peaked in 2014 when four people died. (Getty Images)

In July last year, a 67-year-old man was attacked by a two-metre-long saltwater crocodile in the Northern Territory. The attack prompted a popular swimming hole to close and the regional chief minister to consider culling to reduce threats posed to tourists.

Fatal crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory peaked in 2014 when four people died.

One of these involved a 12-year-old boy who died after being attacked by a crocodile also near Jabiru in Kakadu National Park. Human remains were found near where the boy had been swimming with friends in a billabong.

The last fatal incident happened in 2018, when an indigenous ranger was killed while fishing with her family in a remote area.

Saltwater crocodiles were regularly hunted for their skins before the practice was banned in the Northern Territory in 1971. Since then, the population has doubled.

The local government manages the population and more than 250 were removed from waterways in 2022, where they were either killed or taken to crocodile farms for their meat.

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