Risk Management Plan

NT Government uses a risk-based strategic management approach to determine the level of management activity suitable for any given area. This approach is based on an assessment of:

FREQUENCY:  How often crocodiles are found in the area.
PROXIMITY:   How close an area is to known crocodile breeding source areas.
POPULATION: The number and frequency of people living or recreating in an area.
PROBABILITY:   The likelihood or chance of a human-crocodile interaction occurring.
PRACTICALITY:The accessibility of an area, the risk to staff and the likelihood of a human entering the area.


Different management approaches:

  • Exclusion - the objective is to try to prevent crocodiles from entering an area such that the level of risk is low enough to recommend swimming eg. Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park.
  • No tolerance - the objective is to significantly reduce the risk of attack by removing any crocodiles that enter the area eg. Darwin Harbour and outer Darwin residential areas.
Management AimExclusion No toleranceProblem crocodiles removed
Crocodile presenceExtremely unlikely when open for swimmingLow but possible.Varied but assume high.
Managed to minimise entryyesNoNo
Any crocodiles removedyesyesNo
Problem crocodiles removedyesyesyes
Open – closed capacityyesNoNo
SignsyesSomeSome
Public informed
when crocodiles are seen
yesyesProblem crocodiles only
Awareness campaignyesyesyes



Different levels of management allow different recommendations to be made about the risk of water-based activities. Swimming is only recommended in exclusion areas that are sign-posted safe for swimming. If a waterway is not designated safe for swimming then it may be inhabited by crocodiles.

Management Aim Exclusion No toleranceProblem crocodiles removed
Crocodile presenceExtremely unlikely when open for swimmingLow but possibleVaried but assume high.
Crocodile awareness
behaviour required
Very low levelyesyes
SwimmingyesPatrolled areas onlyNo
Entering the wateryesWith careWith extreme caution
Other water-based activitiesyesWith careWith extreme caution
Water edge activitiesyesWith careWith extreme caution

 

Exclusion areas

These are swimming areas on NT Government parks and reserves that are managed by Parks and Wildlife Commission to minimise the likelihood of saltwater crocodiles entering the area. It is still possible that crocodiles could enter water bodies in this area. Before such areas are opened for swimming they must firstly be surveyed and found to be free of saltwater crocodiles. These areas may be closed for swimming seasonally or temporarily if the risk of crocodiles entering the area is too high. Exclusion areas include Berry Springs Nature Park; Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park; Leilyn (Edith Falls), Nitmiluk National Park.

Although the risk of saltwater crocodiles entering these areas when they are open for swimming is extremely low, it is still possible and warnings are provided for visitors to be alert and to enter the water at their own risk.  Ongoing monitoring and trapping can further reduce the likelihood that a saltwater crocodile could enter these areas unobserved.

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If a saltwater crocodile enters an exclusion area, the area is closed for swimming, warning signs are installed and the public are notified. All saltwater crocodiles found within an exclusion area are removed by trapping, harpooning or, in rare instances, shooting. 

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No tolerance areas

Darwin Harbour, parts of the Katherine River, some areas around Nhulunbuy and a 13km stretch of the McArthur River at Borroloola are managed as "no tolerance" areas. This will be extended to include much of the outer Darwin residential area.

In these areas, the risk of attack by saltwater crocodiles is reduced by removing crocodiles that are found. It is not possible to stop crocodiles from entering these areas and they frequently do. There is always a risk of crocodiles being present in these areas, although management practices keeps the population densities of crocodiles low. The public needs to BE CROCWISE in these areas and swimming is therefore not recommended except in designated or patrolled areas where active observation reduces the risks. Other water-based and water-edge activities can be undertaken with care.

These areas are actively managed by Parks and Wildlife Commission. Management practices include the placement of permanent and temporary traps and surveys. The public are informed when crocodiles are known to be in these areas, and are encouraged to report sightings of crocodiles in these areas.  Crocodiles are removed from the area by trapping, harpooning or in rare instances, by shooting.

Problem crocodiles removed areas

Outside of the exclusion and no tolerance management areas, Parks and Wildlife Commission only conduct very low intensity crocodile management within the known range of the saltwater crocodile.  Across this entire area, saltwater crocodiles may inhabit any water body and the risk of attack is always potentially high.

In these areas, swimming is not recommended, and people should be alert for crocodiles and exercise extreme caution when in or near the water.

The NT Government's management of crocodiles in this area is restricted to the removal of 'problem' saltwater crocodiles only. This is defined as an animal that:

  • Has attacked or is about to attack a person or persons
  • Is behaving aggressively towards a person or persons
  • Has moved into a location that makes it a threat or potential threat to human safety, or
  • Is affecting productivity, industry or commercial enterprises. 

Problem crocodiles may be removed by trapping, harpooning or shooting.

Permits may be granted to other land managers in this area to remove problem crocodiles.

Removal of saltwater crocodiles

Saltwater crocodiles caught by Parks and Wildlife Commission, through trapping or harpooing are transferred to crocodile farms or destroyed. Saltwater crocodiles have the ability to return hundreds of kilometres to locations from which they are removed, and are therefore not translocated and released in the wild.