<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"%> ROCKCRAWLER.com - Days Thirteen and Fourteen of The Isuzu Challenge
Isuzu Challenge
Days 13 and 14 - Meeting the Ecological Goal

This morning we are on our way to the Lakefield National Park to meet Dr. Mark Read. He is going to help us catch a crocodile. No, the teams are not breaking hunting laws and we are not trying to hunt down our dinner. We are donating a satellite tracking system for the research of the salt-water crocodile. The gadget was developed especially for the Isuzu Challenge as part of its annual donation to help global ecological causes.

The estuarine crocodile, Crocodylus Porosus, is a reptile that inhabits reef coastal and inland waterways in much of Queensland, Australia. Over the years the crocodiles here were hunted and their numbers are now severely depleted – they became protected in 1974.

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Since the early 1980s, staff from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has conducted hundreds of surveys to determine the population of estuarine crocodiles. Unfortunately, given the scope and logistical constraints of their research and monitoring program, there has been a limited ability to study the life of the crocodiles.

To date, QPWS has virtually no information on the crocodile's movement patterns, or whether movements are contained within a defined geographical area (a ‘home range’). In addition, QPWS has no data on whether movements change with the size of the animal, its sex or reproductive status, or with changes of the season.

Detailed knowledge about where they go is critical for the long-term management of the species in Queensland.
Charting the movements of any wild animal is difficult, but when the creature is also shy, semi-aquatic and potentially dangerous, it becomes particularly difficult. The most suitable method to log adult-sized estuarine crocodiles is to use satellite telemetry.
Its advantage is that location data is recorded via satellites, without the observer needing to be nearby.

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This technique has been used to study the movement of birds, camels, elephant seals and several species of turtle.
The overall aims of this project are to attach a GPS transmitter to an adult crocodile residing within Lakefield National Park and track it for 10 to 12 months. Data will be shared on a web page.

Mosh Savir, president of the Geographical Tours Company, presented the satellite tracking systems to researchers and said: “Every year we choose a green goal linked to global issues and make a donation to projects at a local level. In addition to this specific donation, the exposure that we have brought to the endangered crocodiles is also important."

After the donation ceremony, we say goodbye to the nature reserve rangers, to Dr. Mark Read, and to the crocodile, and head toward our final destination of the northernmost point of Australia – Cape York. One more day and we’ll be there.

Photographer : Gerry Avramovich

 

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