Crocodile Hunters

Back in the years after the Second World War it was legal and arguably necessary to cull the large and dangerous salt water crocodiles in Australia’s north. Salt water crocodiles kill people from time to time even nowadays in northern Australia. The culling eventually brought salt water crocodile numbers down so low that some believed they might be wiped out and so hunting was stopped and the crocodile leather trade began farming them instead of harvesting them from the wild.

This movie is from the post war period and illustrates both Australian Aboriginal methods of hunting the big and dangerous salt water crocs, and also features some real life “Crocodile Dundee” characters who made their living hunting crocodiles. The rifles are all sporterized ex military Lee Enfield .303’s. To kill a crocodile it was necessary to place a shot into the animal’s brain, which is located behind the eyes. The shooter needed to place a bullet just under the “matchbox”, the flap on the crocodile’s head that sits behind its eyes and is shaped like an old fashioned folding match packet as often given free in restaurants. Once the shot was taken the crocodile would sink to the bottom of the billabong or river and someone would need to jump into the water and feel for the croc with their feet. It was highly dangerous but a hunter could make very good money hunting crocs.

This archive film (courtesy NFSA Films) from Australia gives a quick glimpse at crocodile hunting in Australia’s north as it was done in the forties and fifties.

 

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