Crocodiles are much maligned creatures that have a media problem, one which is not going to change anytime soon. Take the case of a five metre-plus crocodile known as “Yellowhead”. He was called that because he had a light coloured head and prominent yellow body. He lived in the South Alligator River of the Kakadu National Park, a survivor of a time when hunting crocodiles was legal.
He became a problem croc when he started terrorizing fishermen by stealing their hooked barramundi during the early 1980s and 90s. Rangers were on the verge of removing him when he vanished in the late 90s. Some said that he might have copped a bullet from a poacher and was dead, but Yellowhead resurrected when he resurfaced in the Adelaide River months later. The locals called him Michael Jackson because of his light skin colouration.
He was a popular attraction for the cruise boat operators that ply the river. But when a fisherman swam out to a stick that had snagged his lure in August 2014 the big crocodile attacked and killed him. The saurian was shot by police soon after, thus ending the legendary saga of old Yellowhead – or did it?
In March 1918 I was fishing in the South Alligator River with Territory fishing and media legend, Alex Julius. The South is an amazing river with a muddy tidal run of over 100-km and the only large river on the planet that is wholly situated in a national park and World Heritage Area. In the wet season it may be several kilometres wide when it overflows its banks and inundates the flood plains. The tidal section banks are pure mud where mangroves thrive, though taller trees grow on high on the fertile banks. They are well utilized as nesting sites for birds of prey and jabirus.