Grim details emerge as $10,000 reward offered to find croc killers

Someone knows who killed these crocodiles, and conservationists hope the reward will entice them to step forward.

A $10,000 reward has been raised to help find those responsible for the deaths of two well-known crocodiles in Far North Queensland.

News of the killings has shocked Aussies. Grim details of their mutilation have come to light through examination of the corpses, local rumour, a disturbing phone call, and a social media video that reportedly shows one of the deaths.

The horrors began in April, when a decapitated male was discovered in remote Cow Bay. An assessment by one local expert suggested he could have been butchered with a chainsaw. A month later, the killing was linked to a separate death of a small female named Lizzie on the Daintree River — she was reportedly filleted after death.

The beheaded crocodile at Cow Bay. Inset - the decapitation.
Experts believe the large 'icon croc' found at Cow Bay could have been decapitated with a chainsaw. Source: Tommy Hayes

The massive reward was raised by Community Representation of Crocodiles (CROC), a group that counts conservationist Bob Irwin among its high-profile members. Donations came flooding in from around 30 individuals and included two separate amounts of $3000 and $1500. Tourists who had visited the Daintree River and knew Lizzie were among the contributors.

Snapchat video could hold secret to crocodile death

Since the Cow Bay incident occurred, local crocodile expert Tommy Hayes has been searching for those responsible. “I haven’t stopped, I’m going to find out who it was,” he told Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday.

Mr Hayes examined the body and took hundreds of photos of the animal’s wounds, hoping they could help authorities track down the killer. “The head had been perfectly cut from the first vertebrate. It was definitely cut by humans, there wasn’t any visible stretch trauma or damage to the legs you’d associate with a crocodile fight,” he said.

Tommy Hayes in the bush, looking at the camera.
Tommy Hayes has been searching for those responsible for the crocodile beheading since April. Source: Crocodile_Beers

Rumours have been circulating in his remote town about who was responsible for the decapitation, and there are reports a Snapchat video was circulated showing the animal’s gruesome death. It’s hoped the $10,000 reward will be enough to spur someone to share the footage.

Suspicions the same person could have also been involved in the death of Lizzie were sparked after Daintree River tour operator David White told police he received a phone call from an anonymous man claiming responsibility.

“There was this evil person who rang and boasted about killing her, and how she suffered. It was really cruel things. It seemed to be a real macho boast, showing he had problems with his masculinity I think,” he told Yahoo in June.

Crocodiles listed as vulnerable to extinction

CROC spokesperson Amanda French said its members were frustrated by the pace of the investigation being conducted by the department of conservation (DES).

Left: Lizzie poking her head out of the water. Right: Lizzie's body after she was killed.
Lizzie the crocodile (left) was loved by tourists and was later found slaughtered (right). Source: David White/DES

“There’s a member of the public going around bragging about the killings, and threatening everyday members of the community like (the tour operator), making them feel scared more crocodiles would be killed,” she said.

In Queensland, saltwater crocodiles have not recovered from their near extinction in the 1970s and they are still listed as a vulnerable species. The maximum penalty for deliberately harming or killing the species is $14,375.

CROC has been frustrated by the pace of the DES investigation. “It issued a media release and then there’s been deafening silence ever since,” Ms French said.

DES told the investigations are ongoing. It has been contacted for comment.

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