Disturbing details have emerged of a phone call made after a famous crocodile was found dead on the banks of the Daintree River. It gives weight to fears Queensland authorities have that she was targeted and deliberately killed.
Affectionately named Lizzie, the small female was known to lift her paw to passing boats, in a similar fashion to the late English monarch. Tour operator David White estimates she had been photographed by thousands of tourists in the 20 years he’d been observing her. It was a friend of his who found Lizzie's body and then reported her death on May 11.
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, David describes her death as “like losing a member of your family”, adding that each individual displays unique behaviours like dogs do. "Although more people get killed by dogs than crocodiles in Australia," he said.
It initially seemed possible the beloved Lizzie had died of natural causes, but the “sick” phone call made by an anonymous caller to his Solar Whisperer tour business sparked suspicions her life was intentionally.
“There was this evil person who rang and boasted about killing her, and how she suffered. It was really cruel things,” David recalled. “It seemed to be a real macho boast, showing he had problems with his masculinity I think.”
More details of disturbing phone call revealed
The caller made a point of saying saltwater crocodiles are “not the dominant species” in an apparent reference to a fact tour guides share that the species are apex predators and the top of the food chain. “He was saying: I am the dominant species, me and my gun.”
He then detailed beheading another large crocodile at Cow Bay, which some locals had asked the authorities to move from its own habitat. "He said he already had the head of that one so he didn't bother taking Lizzie's as it was too small."
Since Lizzie’s death, another tour company has also been contacted, and there are reports locals have heard a man boasting about killing her. David hopes the man’s gloating will lead to him being caught and that the Department of Environment (DES) hits him with a large fine.
She was my favourite girl and definitely a favourite with tourists.David White
Four things David wants you to know about Lizzie:
Lizzie was very trusting of humans
Unlike other crocodiles she liked to fish during the day
She could have lived for another 60 years or more
Her length was around 2.6 metres
She would often perform in front of boats, lifting herself out of the water to grab crabs from the riverbank
Authorities urged to immediately pursue crocodile deaths
In Queensland it is unlawful to deliberately harm or kill crocodiles or be in possession of their remains, and offenders face a maximum penalty of $32,243.
DES is calling on members of the public to contact them if they have information about Lizzie’s death.
Despite the department making efforts to catch those responsible, critics didn’t react soon enough to other suspicious crocodile deaths.
Mick Bender from Community Representation of Crocodiles (Croc), an advocacy group supported by Bob Irwin, said more should have been done to investigate the Cow Bay crocodile death.
“They’re a vulnerable species, they’re a protected species, there are massive fines for people who kill them, but the investigation was minor,” he said. “An example should have been made out of the person who killed it. We need these situations dealt will immediately so people don’t think it’s something you can get away with.”
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