Wildlife managers will benefit from a new program about crocodiles. Researchers from the University of Australia said that the reptile's size can determine its tendency to stray from the wild and head to the beach.
The crocs-tracking team found that large crocodiles rule the local watering holes. Small-sized crocs fancy hiding in creeks while medium-sized crocodiles tend to explore outside territories. Medium-sized crocodiles are usually 3 to 3.5 meters, or around 11 feet, in length. Nomadic by nature, these reptiles often make an appearance in parks and beach fronts in Australia.
"By monitoring their movements we are starting to understand what wildlife managers are seeing on the ground with animals moving outside their normal ranges", said Biology professor Craig Frankin from the University of Australia. He commended that the program's findings show an interesting way in how these reptiles make use of the environment.
With the help of the Australian Zoo, the croc-tracking program started way back in 2008 using captured reptiles in various lengths. The smallest crocodiles are about a meter or 3 feet long while the longest reptiles extend to almost five meters, or around 16 feet. The researchers keep track of the locations using waterproof transmitters attached to the reptiles. The crocs' coordinates are fed to the satellites, enabling the team to keep track from afar. Most medium-sized crocs stay in estuaries - the parts of a river connected to the sea - and they travel up to 620 miles within a year.
The team started installing advanced trackers to further study the reptiles' movement in the next 10 years. The researchers are optimistic that the next set of tracking data, spanning 17 years of investigation, will benefit the international community. They want to understand the crocodiles' role in the ecosystem and see how the reptiles move from one river system to another, Franklin added.
The long-term croc-tracking program is the result of active collaborations between the University of Australia, the Federal Government and Australia Zoo's team led by Dr. Terri Irwin. In 2007, the Irwin family purchased the Cape York land which is now a scientific reserve and conservation site. The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve celebrates the life work of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, the world-famous Crocodile Hunter who died in 2006.