Title: Crocodile Territory: Protecting a Predator | News Features | ABC News In-Depth | Posted on 2021 10 01 in News

Crocodile Territory

This evening's broadcast of a half hour documentary on saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory is the culmination of a week-long multiplatform project released for ABC News. 

While this is not a Weave Films production, the project was produced, directed and written by Emma Masters and a team of creative, factual specialists from the ABC News Darwin bureau. 

"Anyone who knows me, knows my love and respect for crocodiles," Emma said.

"They're fascinating creatures and one of the Territory's true icon animals - and the story of their conservation isn't one that follows the usual pattern of animal protection.

"I was chatting with the news director John McElhinney and mentioned this year was the 50th anniversary of the ban on hunting crocodiles in the Territory.

"We brainstormed the concept and before we knew it, our core team including myself, journalist Steve Vivian, director of photography Dane Hirst and stills and drone operator Michael Franchi were out on a boat on the Daly River."

The project involved the documentary (which has also been released on ABC Iview and on the ABC's YouTube channel) and an online digital special "The return of crocodile rule".

It also included a series of news stories that were released daily for television and radio, along with long form packages for the ABC's Country Hour and a series of videos for social media (facebook, instagram).

Further, there was special additional reporting around the day a crocodile snapped our drone out of the sky.

"The people were interviewed and filmed along the way really brought so much to the story - I'm forever grateful for their time, expertise and experiece," Emma said.

"It was a huge team effort to put together a truly multiplatform project.

"I'm also grateful to work with the team we did in the ABC News Darwin newsroom.

"It really was a team effort - from the digital expertise in Darwin but on the national desk, the social media team and the hard work done in the edit.

"This project has been a major highlight of 2021." 

Crocodile Territory: Protecting a Predator

It's a remarkable story of bringing a species back from the brink of extinction. But not just any animal - one of the most feared of the animal kingdom.

Since a ban on crocodile hunting in the Northern Territory 50 years ago, the ancient predator has made a spectacular comeback.

Despite inhabiting northern Australia for more than 4.5 million years, the unregulated hunting of saltwater crocodiles and a global demand for their skin saw “salties” shot close to oblivion until the early 70s.

Today, the population has recovered and the number of saltwater crocodiles in Territory waters has rocketed from 3,000 to 100,000.

Salties are big business. They’re the star of Top End tourism and generate millions of dollars every year, and they’re central to a growing export industry.

Crocodile numbers have peaked, but they’re getting bigger and they’re moving closer to urban centres. Simultaneously, the Top End’s towns and cities are expanding.

The wary relationship between people and crocodiles is shifting and there are questions around how people and crocodiles will continue to live together for the next 50 years.